You get home from a night shift, slide gloriously into bed and drift off into blissful slumber. Next thing you know, you’re wide awake, it’s only noon, and you have to work again tonight.
Catching enough zzz’s is a challenge for many of us, but when you work the night shift, getting sufficient sleep can be downright impossible. Don’t fret. There are things you can do to improve your daytime sleep and feel (almost) human again.
7 tips for improving daytime sleep
- Decrease Your Caffeine Intake: The Mayo Clinic recommends abstaining from caffeine after midnight if you’re having difficulty sleeping during the day. I know, hilarious, right? If you depend on caffeine to get you through a shift, try cutting back by just a few hours at first. Or switch to tea. One component, an amino acid called L-Theanine found almost exclusively in tea, has been shown to have a calming effect, which can counteract some of the caffeine jitters.
- Don Sunglasses: This study showed that avoidance of light in the daytime (i.e., wearing dark glasses on your home commute) is associated with better sleep during the day. Our circadian clocks are most sensitive to blue light, so stick with lenses designed to block out both UV and blue light.
- Use Room-Darkening Shades: Room darkening curtains aren’t always the nicest to look at, but even a little bit of light can affect your sleep rhythm. Invest in some room darkening shades. You can easily lift them when not in use and they are subtle enough to not interfere with your pretty window treatments.
- Wear An Eye Mask: This Magellan’s eye mask is contoured which they say allows for REM eye movement and yields a more restful sleep.
- Drown Out The Noise: The world is noisy during the day. Even if you live with conscientious people, the occasional ringing phone or dishwasher emptying can ruin your daytime sleep. Drown out that extraneous sound with earplugs. These silicone plugs mold and contour to your ear shape for maximum seal.
- Catch A Nighttime Nap: If you find yourself fatigued on the night shift due to poor daytime sleep, a catnap might be the answer. Although the idea is still controversial, napping at work might be a wave of the future for nurses and other off-shift workers. Research suggests that brief nighttime naps may partially compensate for insufficient sleep and the National Sleep Foundation states that napping can be “essential” for some shift workers.
- Consider Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland, with increased levels at night and often non-existent levels during the day. Supplementing with melatonin is believed to be beneficial for shift workers who experience difficulty with daytime sleep. Synthetic melatonin is not regulated by the FDA, so if you’re considering giving melatonin supplementation a try, discuss with your health providers first.
What do you do to get a good day’s sleep? Share your tried and true tips.