Sleep and Shift Workers

Surviving the night shift

Do you have shift work sleep disorder?

Whether you’re a police officer, firefighter, factory worker or medical professional, you may have worked night shifts which have limited your ability to get a full night of sleep. Research shows that shift workers average only five hours of sleep per day -- less than what the body ideally needs.

If you find yourself nodding off during your job and lying awake in your bed after your shift is over you’re in good company. Many night shift workers suffer from a sleep disorder which is caused by a shift in your internal clock – your body’s innate way of knowing to sleep when it is dark and stay up when the sun is out.

Pulling the late night shift: tips you need to know for a good night rest

Working non-traditional hours can be difficult on your body. Getting a good night sleep is key to helping you stay well and avoid serious health conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

Sleep tips for shift workers include:

  • Keep a regular and consistent schedule.
  • Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on your days off.
  • Make your room as dark as possible with room darkening shades and drapes or wear a sleep mask.
  • Block light that comes in under the doorway and cover your clock.
  • Block out sounds with ear plugs, by running a fan or using a "white noise" machine.
  • Make household rules that prohibit noisy activities like vacuuming or listening to music while you're sleeping.
  • Turn off telephone ringers.
  • Let family and friends know your sleep schedule and ask them not to call or visit when you're sleeping.
  • Keep your bedroom temperature comfortable (research shows between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for most people).
  • Avoid caffeine several hours before bedtime.
  • Relax and unwind before bed (a few hours, if possible).
  • Develop a relaxing bedtime ritual, like taking a warm bath or reading.

Treatment of shift workers disorders

Should your work during off-hour shifts lead you to regularly struggle with sleep loss, chronic fatigue or sleepiness, drowsy driving, depression or other problems, we are here to help.

Our team of physicians, nurses and care providers work around the clock to diagnose and treat a variety of sleep disorders, including shift work sleep disorder. We routinely perform sleep studies and, because we are a research center, offer a variety of treatment options that may not be available at other sleep centers.