Getting to grips with shift work can be one of the most challenging external aspects of the job for new recruits. Naturally, it is more difficult to stay awake when your body clock is telling you it’s time to sleep, and harder still to get to sleep when the rest of the country is starting the day. But it is really important to get sufficient rest during your late shifts, as fatigue can lead to mistakes and errors of judgement.
Here are our four tips to help you get a good amount of rest after a night shift.
Eliminate caffeine intake 4-5 hours before end of your shift
Caffeinated drinks such as energy drinks, teas and coffee can be a useful boost to your energy levels at the start of a shift – but too much can lead to the dreaded palpitations and head chatter as you try to get too sleep. To get a good amount of undisturbed rest, you should aim to eliminate your consumption of all caffeine products around 4-5 hours before the end of your shift and switch to water or decaffeinated teas during this time.
Eliminate light from where you are trying to sleep
Blue light, which is found in natural sunlight as well as from your phone and devices, can disturb your circadian rhythm and sleep cycle. Consider using blue light blocking glasses on your drive home from work, avoid the temptation to spend time checking your phone after your shift and ensure that you use blackout curtains or blinds which will reduce the amount of light coming into your bedroom.
Create a bedtime routine
If you participate in the same routine every time you go to sleep, your brain is likely to get you to sleep far quicker after a night shift by repeating that routine. By participating in repeated patterns, your brain will automatically send the signals that tells your body it is time to go sleep. Make sure you create that routine – whether it is reading a few pages of your book, taking a shower, or watching an episode of a TV show that you’ve already seen before – if you repeat that pattern every time you sleep at night your brain will quickly send those same signals when you do the same thing after a night shift.
It’s also a good idea to let people know what hours you’re working and when you will be sleeping, so they know to leave you alone. Explain to your partner and children why it is important that you are not disturbed so that they understand and become less likely to interrupt your sleep. Ask those who live with you to refrain from doing any noisy activities while you sleep like vacuuming, washing dishes or watching TV loudly. Put your smartphone on “Do Not Disturb” mode so your screen won’t be lighting up frequently with new notifications.
We hope these tips help both new recruits and serve as a pertinent reminder for those who have been in the job for a while now. Let us know if you have any more tips to add!