Iowa Sleep Blog

Working the Night Shift

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


People would question me on how I was able to stay awake

all night when I worked the night shift.  Thankfully, I never had to work a rotating shift or change from a somewhat continuous night schedule.  Let’s discuss a few things I personally felt helped me succeed at working a night shift.



-Wear dark sunglasses on the way home.

I actually have heard of individuals wearing welding glasses home.  Just don’t let those sun rays shine into your eyes activating the alerting centers in our brain telling the body to wake up. 



-Keep you sleep environment as quiet as possible.

This may involve locking your pets out of your bedroom, wearing ear plugs and unfortunately closing the windows.  I wasn’t afraid to let my neighbors know I worked the night shift and most were very respectful of this.  I also tried to be very respectful of their night sleep period.  If problems arose I would just try and make the visit as friendly as possible. 



-Make your sleep environment as cozy as possible

I don’t know how I ever survived without my black out curtains.  They come reasonably priced and are well worth the money.  Temperature regulation is another key.  Studies have shown that ideal sleeping temperature is 64 degrees but they also did include that shattering teeth really aren’t conducive to sleep either.  Some find just air movement of a fan helps.



-Try to keep the same sleep schedule.

Now I know this is almost impossible but try.  One of my family members who didn’t live with me would always state, “you sleep all the time.”  No, I am just sleeping during a brief period of your wake time.  Rarely does a night shift worker get a continual eight hours of sleep and if we did, we had to tell everyone about it.  Spelled out- “normal” sleep period 10pm- 6am and night shift worker, well… we sleep when we can.  Unfortunately, this is a day person’s world and Doctor appointments can’t be after 5pm.  Most importantly, try and sleep right before work.



-Don’t have caffeine several hours before bedtime.

 Pay close attention to how your body reacts to caffeine and adjust accordingly. 



-Shut the phone off during periods of sleep.

 It may sound harsh but at least put it on vibrate.  Voicemail and text is available, return their call.  Just notify people.  If you need someone to return your call, let them know you are sleeping from 9am to 5pm, we could hope.



-Save busy activities for 3am.

Keep your brain and body active.  Do not save the most boring tasks for this period of time.  You body will naturally want to sleep during this period of time.  Prepare for it and work through it the best you can.


Sleep should be placed at the top of your list.  I know it is difficult, but all body function is dependent on adequate rest.  The body can only be productive as it is allowed.