Do You Work Off Shifts?
Approximately 15 million Americans work some form of off shifts. This sometimes presents challenges to maintaining the required level of alertness both at home and at work. In order to cope with shift work and perform to the best of your ability try to follow these tips:
- Get the proper amount of sleep, whether you sleep day or night (approximately 7-8 hours for most people). Find a regular schedule for sleep, such as sleeping right after work or right before work, and be as consistent as possible
- Create a good sleep environment by resting in a dark, quiet, cool room. Use ear plugs or white noise, such as a fan to achieve this.
- Avoid caffeine for up to 5 hours and exercise up to 3 hours before bedtime. Also avoid heavy meals and alcohol right before bedtime because they may interfere with your sleep quality.
- If you drive home in the morning, wear sunglasses to avoid the bright light as much as possible if you plan to sleep as soon as you get home from work.
- When switching back to days after night shift, sleep only a couple of hours when you get home in the morning. Then try to get a full night of sleep that night.
- Napping can be helpful when added to your regular sleep, not as a substitute for regular sleep. Keep naps to 20-30 minutes.
- At work, keep the lights as bright as possible and take short breaks with movement to maintain alertness.
- Exercise regularly to maintain your fitness which increases your ability to handle stress and fend off illness. A 20 minute walk before work can help energize you and increase your alertness.
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