Night Jobs Safety and Sleeping Strategies
People who work outside of normal daylight hours are called shift workers. Approximately 15 million Americans work at night. Employees who work in night jobs are at risk for accidents and health issues because they might not be getting the proper amount and quality of sleep required for their body to be alert. Night shift workers feel fatigued and never really adapt to being awake at night because they eventually always return to day hours on their time off, or they are assigned shifts that rotate the beginning and ending times.
Another reason for fatigue is that day sleep is lighter than night sleep. Lack of sleep can cause health disease and digestive problems. The body is designed to follow a circadian rhythm in which Melatonin is produced by the brain at night to facilitate sleep. Night shifts interrupt the rhythm. In order to maintain safety, choose your hours carefully, and follow certain sleep strategies.
When considering a night job, ask the following questions:
How many shifts are worked before a rest day?
How many rest days are on weekends?
Is there is overtime.
How much rest is available between shifts?
How much rest time is available during the shift?
What time the shift starts and ends.
Do the shift hours rotate or remain the same?
Night Jobs Sleep Strategies:
Try to get at least 6 hours sleep after working a night shift.
When switching back to days after the night shift, it is best to get most of your sleep the following night.
(Sleep just a couple of hours shortly after night shift to shake off
sleepiness. Then stay awake all day and go to sleep at your regular
bedtime at night.)
Naps should only be used as an addition to regular sleep. Avoid naps shorter than 20 minutes as they might make you drowsier.
Protect your sleep hours. Notify all those around you that you need quiet. Utilize dark curtains and insulation to block light and noise.
Reserve your bed for sleeping activities only.
Avoid alcohol before sleep. It will cause you to wake up earlier and disturbs sleep.
Exercise is ok to relieve stress and wake you for your shift. Do 20 minutes a couple of hours before work, but not if it tends to tire you out.
Find a good relaxation technique before you go to sleep.
One to three cups of caffeine are ok a day, but avoid drinking coffee, tea and soft drinks near the end of your night shift.
Try not to do more than 2 to 4 night shifts in a row.
Avoid morning and night shifts scheduled for the same day.
Try to get some weekends off to reconnect with family.
Avoid long spans of workdays such as 10 days in a row without time off.
Know your schedule well, so that you can prepare to sleep ahead of time.
This information was obtained from:
Plain Language About Shiftwork
Roger R. Rosa1
Michael J. Colligan2
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
1Division of Biomedical and Behavioral Science
2Education and Information Division