The Best Sleeping Schedule For Night Shift Workers
Night shift workers need 7 to 9 hours of sleep, just like people working during regular hours. The best time to get your ZzZs is from 9 am to 5 pm, if you work between 11 pm and 7 am. This recommended sleep window can be adjusted depending on your specific night shift hours.
It is best to wake up approximately 4-6 hours before your night work shift.
Consider engaging in some light exercises and have a protein-rich meal within 2 hours of waking up.
At work, it is important to work in well-lit areas, keep moving, and stay hydrated in order to keep your brain alert.
Did you know?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 15 million Americans work night shifts
Working the night shift is no easy feat. Humans are diurnal creatures, which means we are active during the day and become tired as the sun sets. Therefore, night shift workers need specific sleep strategies to have a smooth work experience.
Night shift workers still need to get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep when resting during the day. To become a skilled daytime sleeper, you may want to optimize your sleep hygiene. Taking a warm shower before bedtime, sleeping in a dark room, and using a weighted blanket all contribute to enhancing your quality of daytime sleep.
A Sample Night Shift Sleep Schedule
Finding an appropriate sleep schedule is crucial for enhancing your night shift work experience. Below is a table with a recommended routine based on the most common night shift hours: 11 pm to 7 am. You may need to adjust it if your night shift occurs during a different time period.
|11:00 PM||Work begins||Embrace bright light and stay active.|
|02:00 AM||Caffeine Cut-off||Taking coffee this late might disrupt your sleep.|
|04:00 AM||“Dinner” time||Consider eating your usual dinner meal.|
|07:00 AM||Head home||Try blue-light blockers to simulate nighttime.|
|08:00 AM||Get in bed||Sleep with a cozy weighted blanket.|
|04:00 PM||Time to wake up||Open the blinds to let in some natural light.|
|04:00 PM - 05:00 PM||“Morning” routine||Light exercises help in boosting your energy.|
|05:00 PM - 06:00 PM||“Breakfast” time||A protein-rich breakfast goes a long way.|
|06:00 PM - 09:00 PM||Daily activities||You may go about your day as usual.|
|09:00 PM - 10:00 PM||“Lunch” time||A low-sugar lunch helps avoid energy dips.|
How do I Control Sleep During My Night Shift?
Having trouble staying awake during your night shift? We've got you covered with some useful tips on how to save the Zzzs for later when working a late shift
1. Keep your workspace bright. Dimly lit areas are perfect for napping because darkness promotes the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Therefore, the opposite is true: bright areas make it harder for you to fall asleep.
2. Take breaks when possible. If your work involves sitting at a desk or standing in one spot, it is beneficial to take breaks to refresh your mind. These breaks can be used to grab a snack, take a walk, or do light stretches.
3. Stay active during your shift: Remaining stationary can cause your body to relax, leading to drowsiness. If possible, you may want to consider moving around during your breaks.
4. Listen to upbeat music. This is ideal if your work grants you the freedom to indulge in loud music or if donning a pair of headphones won't cause a distraction in your workflow. Having an interactive podcast or YouTube video playing in the background can also help you stay alert and engaged.
5. Less caffeine, more water: It is ideal to consume caffeine within 1 to 2 hours of waking up for your shift. Beyond that, you can enjoy light herbal teas such as peppermint and ginger tea. Staying hydrated will also help improve brain function and combat the brain fog that can occur due to sleepiness during your night shift.
Sleep Tips And Strategies For Night Shift Workers
Working the night shift is no easy task, and we understand that. Therefore, below are responses to the most common queries about sleep hygiene for night shift workers:
When Should I Sleep When Working Night Shifts?
The best time to sleep before starting a night shift varies based on the specific timing of your shift and the amount of time you require to get ready for work. The schedule we prepared is for those wondering what times to sleep for night shift work. It is also for questions like, “What are 3rd shift hours, 2nd shift hours, 1st shift hours?”
|Shift Name||Hours||Sleeping Window|
|First (1st) Shift||09:00 AM - 05:00 PM||10:00 PM - 06:00 AM|
|Second (2nd) Shift||05:00 PM - 01:00 AM||07:00 AM - 03:00 PM|
|Third (3rd) Shift||11:00 PM - 07:00 AM||09:00 AM - 05:00 PM|
This assumes that you spend approximately 8 hours in bed. If you are someone who requires more sleep, you can utilize our sleep timing calculator. This will provide you with personalized recommendations based on the specific time you wish to sleep or wake up
How Do I Sleep During The Day To Prepare For A Night Shift?
Since humans typically sleep at night, getting your 7-9 hours of sleep during the day can be a challenge. Trying several of these tips can help you sleep well during the day, ensuring that you are prepared for your night shift:
1. Take a warm shower before sleeping. This can be beneficial for relaxation and decompression. You can enhance your bath experience by pairing it with some relaxing music and aromatherapy.
2. Sleep in a dark room. When trying to get your 7-9 hours of sleep during the day, your body may require some coaxing to fall asleep. It is helpful to sleep in a dark room by putting your blinds down and sleep mask on and getting cozy in your bed.
3. Set a cool temperature in your bedroom. A cooler temperature can create a cozy sleeping space for you. You may want to aim for about 65 degrees Fahrenheit so that it is not too cold
4. Using a weighted blanket. Sleeping with a weighted blanket has been shown to promote deep sleep, leaving you feeling refreshed upon waking up. Our Cotton Napper, for instance, provides deep touch pressure that promotes the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.
To maximize the rejuvenation you experience from your daytime nap, you may want to consider the following tips for when you awaken from your slumber:
5. Exercise when you wake up. You may want to try some light exercises that can help boost your alertness. Consider avoiding intense exercises, such as weight lifting, as they can leave you feeling tired after your workout. This can make it more difficult to stay alert and awake at work.
6. Eat a healthy meal after you wake up. Proteins and fiber-rich foods are excellent for providing energy and keeping you feeling full for longer. It also helps to have fresh fruits and vegetables. Staying away from sugar helps because a later sugar crash can result in increased feelings of sleepiness.
If you still find it difficult to fall asleep after trying these tips, you may want to consider potential factors that could be affecting your sleep, such as stress and anxiety.
How Does Working Overnight Affect Your Sleep?
Ever heard of Shift Work Sleep Disorder (SWSD)? It is an interference in the circadian rhythm that can sneak up on people who work the night shift. This sleep disorder affects approximately 10 to 40% of workers on night shifts. So, you may want to watch out for the following symptoms:
- Excessive sleepiness
- Irritability or difficulty regulating emotions
- Lack of energy
- Headaches or blurry vision
- Reduced alertness while awake
- Trouble concentrating on tasks
The good news is this: Shift Work Sleep Disorder (SWSD) is avoidable and treatable. We recommend that you see a sleep specialist to determine the proper course of treatment. Doctors may offer prescriptions to help you manage your symptoms, or advise that you stop working the night shift.
What Is The Healthier Way To Work The Night Shift?
As you navigate the night shift, remember that your body is going through a transition, so this is the moment to practice self-care without compromise.
Consider these tips:
- Discuss this change with roommates or other people who live with you.
- Try several combinations of sleep strategies until you find what works for you.
- Find pockets of days or weeks where you can alternate back to day shifts.
Do Night Shift Workers Need More Sleep?
Not really. Healthy adults, regardless of their work shifts, need the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep. For night shift workers though, you may want to be more intentional about optimizing your sleep hygiene. Therefore, worry not… working the night shift does not equal sleep deprivation.
Although, some people might take a little longer to adjust to daytime sleeping for their night shifts. This may lead to them getting less sleep, which has been linked to an increase in the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol makes it even more difficult to fall asleep.
However, using a chunky knitted weighted blanket like our Cotton Napper can help reduce the production of cortisol as you sleep. The evenly-distributed weight on our Napper applies Deep Touch Pressure (DTP) which also helps increase the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.
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How Long Does It Take To Adjust To The Night Shift?
About 10 days. You may notice that after a little over a week of following going from a day shift to a night shift, your body will adjust to your new rhythm. However, the length of time it takes to adjust to the night shift greatly depends on individual factors, such as your typical sleep habits.
Individual lifestyle habits may also contribute to how long it takes to adjust to a night shift schedule. So, it is best to stay in tune with your own body’s needs to ensure that you encourage it to adopt your new schedule.
How Do I Adjust From Working Night Shift To Day Shift
It is typical for most people to alternate between day and night shifts. If this happens to be what your work schedule looks like, then the following recommendations may be just what you need for a smooth transition:
1. Work with your circadian rhythm. Each of us has an internal body clock that informs the brain when it is time to be awake or asleep. This clock can be influenced by exposure to light and darkness. The key is to expose yourself to light when you need to stay awake and to embrace darkness when you want to fall asleep.
2. Get plenty of sunlight. As you work to get back in sync with your circadian rhythm, you may want to schedule intentional sunlight sessions for yourself. You can do this by having breakfast outside when the sun is not too bright or by going for an early evening walk, just before the sun sets.
3. Take naps during the day. While transitioning back to traditional work hours, you might struggle with daytime sleepiness. You may want to indulge in a quick power nap to recharge your brain.
4. Stay hydrated and eat regularly. Your sleeping habits can affect your appetite. Therefore, you may notice a decrease or increase in your appetite when you transition back to a day shift. Consider keeping a regulated eating schedule and reminders on when to drink water.
5. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. When you're not working the night shift, it is advisable to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Consider setting an early bedtime, which will give your body enough time to relax and ease into dreamland.
The best sleep schedule for night shift workers depends on individual factors, such as one's shift hours and their usual sleep routine. For workers in the 11 pm to 7 am shift, the recommendation is to sleep between 9 am and 5 pm.
To sleep well during the day, consider resting in a dimly lit and cool environment and using a weighted blanket. The weight from our Cotton Napper, for instance, activates deep touch pressure (DTP), which increases the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. When you wake up for the night shift, consider doing some light exercises and eating a protein-rich “breakfast”, which will give you an energy boost.