Sleep Health

Up at odd hours: 5 tips to help shift workers sleep


If you’re working shifts its worthwhile taking steps to ensure you’re still getting good quality sleep so that you can be at your best when you arrive at work. 

If you're a shift worker, you know what a struggle sleep can be.

With a busy life and long work hours, you can often find yourself running out of time to sleep. 

People working jobs that require 24-hour service, such as police officers, hotel and hospital staff, have to work unsociable hours which means sleeping during the morning or afternoon when the rest of the world is awake. This can lead to difficulties getting enough restful sleep.

Shift work means you’re sleeping in less than ideal conditions 

Shift workers often find it difficult to sleep during the day due to adverse conditions such as sunlight, noise, distractions and temperature, and as a result, they’re 60% more likely to suffer from sleep disorders than people who keep regular hours.1

This can result in sleep disruption which may unfortunately affect performance in the short-term and productivity in the long term.2

As a shift worker, you could find it difficult to balance sleep, work and family commitments. However, because restful sleep is so important, here are 5 tips to help you get a better sleep, no matter what time of day:

1. Reduce noises and distractions

Trying to sleep when the neighbourhood is awake is challenging, and noise can easily disturb your sleep. Try and make your room as soundproof as possible by closing the windows and doors, as well as drawing heavy curtains. You may also want to try earplugs, turn off your mobile phone, and ask housemates to be quiet while you’re sleeping.

2. Keep your room cool

Around 18 degrees C is the ideal temperature for getting to sleep, and staying asleep.3 This temperature is the most complementary to the cooler temperatures your core experiences while sleeping. By keeping your room at this temperature, your body doesn't warm up and transition too quickly out of the deep sleep stages, thus promoting better rest.

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3. Maintain darkness

One thing that throws off your sleep if you’re a night time shift worker is bright daylight. To help you get enough sleep during the day, in addition to heavy curtains, consider wearing an eye mask to block out the light.

4. Plan social activities

Friends and family often don’t appreciate the hours you need to sleep to fit around your work timetable, so they may ask you to do things at times when you should be resting. If possible, plan your social life and organise events around your sleep times so that you're not having to sacrifice sleep or a social life.

5. Be strict about sleep

Just because you’re going to bed at odd hours doesn't mean that preparing to sleep should be any different; you still need to wind down the same way. This means whether it’s morning or afternoon, avoid caffeinated products, alcohol or smoking. Don’t eat a large meal right before to bed and avoid stimulating activities which will keep your brain active.

While shift work can throw off your sleep-wake cycle, getting enough good quality sleep should still be a priority so you can awaken your best.

Having trouble sleeping? Get a free sleep assessment now

Our free sleep assessment will help you identify whether your sleep may be affected by a sleep disorder. If you’re having problems sleeping, don’t waste another night: Take the sleep assessment.

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