Nurses and midwives are at the centre of keeping the whole world healthy. This is why World Health Day 2020 this April 7th is completely dedicated to them! World Health Day was created by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to bring awareness to a certain health topic that deserves special attention.
The WHO states “Nurses and other health workers are at the forefront of COVID-19 response - providing high quality, respectful treatment, care and leading community dialogue to address fears and questions… Quite simply, without nurses, there would be no response.” It only makes sense that nurses are celebrated!
Sleep is extra important for people working on the front lines, keeping our nation safe and healthy, but it is unfortunately harder for shift workers than normal workers to get real quality sleep.
Developing a healthy relationship with sleep can be really difficult when working anti-social hours, but it’s still possible to create yourself a good night shift sleep schedule. Let us give you advice on how to sleep better whilst working shifts.
Effects of Shift Work
Irregular schedules and shift work can have a negative effect on your circadian rhythm. Your internal body clock and the outside world become massively out of sync, meaning that it becomes harder to get those precious hours of shut eye than ever!
Luckily for us, our internal clock is flexible so it can adapt if you’re in a solid routine. A great example of this is when you’re jet lagged, your body, though tired and confused for the first couple of days, quickly adapts into a new routine.
It is, however, pretty impossible to develop a consistent sleep routine when you are trying to balance sleep and shift work, especially if your shift patterns are constantly rotating. But there are four ways that you can make it easier!
Prepare for Your Night Shift
Most normal people can handle around a two to three hour shift in their regular sleep pattern.
On the lead up to your night shift, it is worth considering this and slowly shifting your sleep pattern. Start getting up two hours earlier and going to sleep two hours later!
Consider adding a nap into your daily routine, if you’re an early riser, try getting a few hours in the afternoon, and, if you’re a night owl, try and make yourself have at least 30 minutes before you get ready for work! Trust me, you’re going to feel a lot better throughout your shift if you’re well-rested.
Block Out the Light
You’ve finished up your night shift, you’re exhausted, and it’s time to head home to try and get some sleep. You step outside, and suddenly you’re hit with beautiful, dazzling sunlight. Not only is your circadian rhythm now completely confused, but so are you.
Light halts your body in its production of melatonin, a hormone that is produced by our bodies as a reaction to darkness. Melatonin is going to make you want to go to sleep, so keep things as dark as you can! Why not try wearing dark glasses on your commute home?
It is worth investing in some really good black out blinds or curtains in your home, keep them shut and use only lamps like you normally would in an evening. Once you’re in bed, we’d recommend trying out an eyemask to make sure you’re completely blocking out all light!
Continue Your Usual Bedtime Routine
It is a very stressful time for nurses and anyone else currently working in the NHS, due to the additional strain from the coronavirus, and stress can make it extra hard to get that precious sleep you need. So, sticking to a calming bedtime routine is more important than ever.
After a long shift, the sun might be shining and the birds might be singing, but this is the best time for you to wind down and get some sleep. Try and re-enact your usual night time routine as much as possible.
It may seem intuitive, but simply having a warm bath and brushing your teeth will tell your body that it is time to rest. Light relaxation exercises and meditation are also good ways to wind down before you get some sleep after a night shift. Make sure your housemates, family, or partner know your schedule so they don’t accidentally wake you when you’re getting precious hours of shut eye.
I would also suggest removing any clocks from your bedroom, as there is nothing worse than trying to sleep and being aware of how many hours you have until you need to be awake again. This can put unnecessary stress on what is supposed to be your rest period.
Not sure this will cut the mustard? Then get more tips in our post: How to Sleep When Stressed - We Asked the Experts
Recovering properly from your night shift is key to ensuring you feel less tired for a smaller amount of time.
Try working out! If you stay physically fit, your body will be able to cope better when your body clock shifts, meaning you won’t feel as fatigued for as long.
If you are trying to return to a day shift pattern, remember that bright light is going to make you feel more awake and alert. Why not try a light alarm clock? Or invest in a seasonal affective disorder lamp. That bright light is going to give you some much needed energy!
Blue Light Discount
Here at Happy Beds, we want to make sure that shift workers get the best possible night’s sleep. Whether that’s by starfishing in a king size memory foam mattress or curling up under a bamboo duvet! That’s why we have exclusive discounts through Blue Light Discounts, supporting our NHS, Armed Forces and Emergency Services.