There are many careers that require the working of different shifts. Police officers, emergency room doctors and nurses, factory workers and even some retail workers will at some point have to work odd hours. I spent many years as a police officer working all night and it can take a toll on you. Third shift is often affectionately referred to as the “graveyard” shift or midnight shift. Shift work might also entail working second shift which is traditionally an afternoon assignment. Second shift is usually a 3-11 pm schedule.
There are several difficulties associated with shift work. Physically, working different shifts can be challenging. Many people that have spent time working the graveyard shift talk about always feeling tired or never feeling like they can get caught up on their sleep. This difficulty is compounded by those businesses or organizations that rotate their employees from shift to shift on a regular basis. When this happens, the individual has an even tougher time in getting their body to adjust to shift work.
Another difficulty associated with working different shifts is that the the person’s spouse, significant other, or children might not understand the challenges of shift work themselves. This can create conflict and tension in the relationship because they might feel that the shift worker is not spending enough time with them or does not want to do things with them. The family member might not understand how important it is for the worker to get enough sleep. Friends might be put off because when they are getting ready to go out the third shift worker is heading to work.
Probably the biggest difficulty that people on shift work experience is trying to sleep during the day. This seems abnormal at first. If it is daylight outside, it should not be time to go to bed. Many shift workers describe the phenomena of being very tired after working all night but then not being able to go to sleep when they lay down. There are several remedies available to help them overcome this.
First of all, it is important that the bedroom be dark enough. If the room is flooded with light, it is going to be hard going to sleep. Heavy shades or black out curtains will serve to create a dark bedroom for the person to sleep in.
Creating a quiet environment is also crucial for someone to sleep during the day. This especially comes into play if the shift worker has small children at home or if they live in an apartment complex where noise is common. One step to having a quiet place to sleep is picking a room on the backside of the house or apartment to sleep in. Another option is to create artificial noise that will cover up the noise of children, dogs barking, or loud neighbors. A floor fan is a great tool to create cover-up noise. Foam ear plugs are another way to shut out unwanted noise. They can be a little difficult to get used to, however.
Another important aspect of learning to sleep during the day is to try and create the habit of going to bed at the same time every day. It is easy for someone working at night to get into the habit of staying up and running errands, doing laundry, or visiting friends. What ends up happening, however, is that they end up short-changing themselves on sleep. By getting into a habit of going to bed at the same time everyday, their body can adjust and get into a routine.
There are some people who try everything that has been discussed and still struggle to sleep during the day. These shift workers may need some chemical help to get to sleep. One option is Melatonin. Melatonin is a natural sleep aid that many shift workers have found helpful. The body produces melatonin to help regulate natural sleep patterns. Taking a melatonin tablet twenty minutes before bed will help most people go to sleep. Melatonin is also useful for people who work second shift and get home around midnight. Many second shift workers describe how difficult it is going right to bed when they get home. A single tablet usually does the trick.
Other shift workers feel that melatonin does not help and still struggle to sleep during the day. These shift workers should see their doctor about getting a stronger sleep aid. There are a number of different medicinal solutions. Some shift workers have balked at the idea of having to take something to help them sleep. After a few sleepless days, however, most people are willing to try anything.
Shift work can be challenging. Sleeping during the day is difficult for many people. Following these time-proven tips can be a great start to learning how to sleep when everyone else in the world is awake.
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