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  • Writer's pictureTracy Miller

6 Sleep Tips For Shift Workers

How to get the rest and energy you need when you don’t have a typical schedule

An important tip on getting the most benefit from a good night’s sleep I like to share with people, is the importance of developing a regular sleep schedule. Go to sleep at the same time each night, and wake at the same time each morning. This is more easily achieved when you have a more traditional 9 to 5 work schedule, but what if your job or lifestyle does not allow you to follow this rule?

When you don’t have day and night as a guide to help create normal sleep patterns, the lack of sleep can open your mind and body to a variety of challenges including the most obvious fatigue, but also irritability, brain fog, higher stress levels and weakened overall health. I was speaking with two people whose occupations require shift work, and it got me to thinking about how and what products they can use to still get the most out of a great night’s sleep.

Katrina Nickell is a nighttime broadcast journalism reporter based in Green Bay Wisconsin. Lindsay Wisdorf is a night NICU nurse in Indianapolis, Indiana. They both have demanding shift work schedules that do now allow them to go to sleep at 10 each night and wake at 6 each morning. I recently had the chance to chat with both of them and listen to their experiences about what has helped them prioritize sleep and feel alert and ready for the day.

Here are their top tips:

  1. Set times to be asleep and wake up by each day - Sleep consistency is key to helping your body adjust and establish a sleep routine regardless of your work shift. Katrina aims to start her nighttime routine by midnight each night, and wake up by 8:30 a.m each day.

  2. Accept that you will have different sleep hours than your family or peers - You may not be waking up at 7 each morning and asleep by 10 each night like your friends and family, but that is okay! It is more important to adjust your schedule so that you are still getting the full 8-9 hours of rest each night, and still making time to wind down and relax before bed.

  3. Do something relaxing before bed - Katrina finds it helpful to make time each night before bed to work in a nighttime routine. Whether that is watching an episode of your favorite show, or reading a few pages in your book, staying up a few minutes later to incorporate these nighttime rituals will help you sleep deeper and wake up feeling more relaxed.

  4. Incorporate a healthy diet - While Lindsay does not get to set a regular schedule like Katrina, she makes up for it by incorporating a healthy diet. Healthy foods can give you more energy during the day and help with your quality of sleep at night. She eats a healthy breakfast and always packs a healthy meal to eat on the job. “When I eat junk food, it weighs me down and makes me feel even more sluggish!” she said.

  5. Make time for exercise each day! Both Katrina and Lindsay find time in their days to make time for exercise. Even light exercise such as a walk each morning can have a huge impact on how you feel each day. Making an effort to get the blood flowing helps both of them to feel more awake and alert during the day, and helps them to fall asleep more quickly at night when it is time to finally hit the hay.

  6. When you finally can get some sleep, make sure it is quality! As a night nurse, Lindsay does not always know when or how much sleep she will be able to get. She does not have the luxury of setting times to be asleep and wake up by each day. Her advice is to take advantage of quality sleep when you finally do get the chance. Create a relaxing, dark, cool environment with high quality sleep products if possible!

“At first adjusting to my new sleep schedule was very difficult. I would come home and try to go straight to bed so I could wake up around 7 or 8 a.m. like so many of my peers. But eventually, I realized it was more important to take time to decompress and relax after a long work day, even if that meant staying up until midnight or 1 a.m. and sleeping in a bit later than others who work a regular 9 to 5 job,” Katrina said.

When you need to fall asleep faster and sleep deeper, try the True Temp Weighted Blanket. This weighted blanket provides a hug-like embrace that can help reduce anxiety in both children and adults, and help people achieve a relaxed mental and physical state so they can fall asleep more easily. This is one of my favorite products for shift workers that are challenged with maintaining a good sleep habit. The True Temp Weighted Blanket is uniquely designed to maximize the “hug” experience, while minimizing heat build-up. Temperature regulating technology in the material uses far-infrared reflection to control humidity and encourage excess heat and moisture to escape. So despite the extra bulk, you sleep nice and cool even as the warmer weather approaches. Twelve corner loops and ties securely anchors the removable cover to the weighted insert keeping the blanket in place on your body. Machine washable, and hypoallergenic for the most sensitive sleepers round out the amazing performance qualities of this product.

About Inventive Sleep® by Tracy Miller

Tracy Miller is a trusted inventor and innovator of dynamic, technology driven, and comfortable products for the home, and founder of Inventive Sleep™. Her engaging brands are found in millions of homes and hotels across the country. As a Sleep Products Innovator, Tracy is dedicated to helping people realize their dreams and goals starting with a great night’s sleep. Her reputation for combining proven and modern materials in everyday products including sheets, pillows, comforters, blankets and mattress pads, adds exciting new comfort and performance qualities consumers love to incorporate into their homes. Tracy is also the author of the weekly sleep blog Sleep Secrets and Inspirations. In it, she shares her expertise on materials research and design, and demystifies the sleep experience with an informative and fun-filled conversation on how sleep helps people with daily living, as well as some of her tips and tricks on picking your favorite products. For more information, visit Sleep Tonight. Create Tomorrow.™

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