Tips to Help Manage Shiftwork

Last week, we discussed the importance of shiftwork safety. This week, we want to discuss some tips and tricks to help you manage shiftwork and offer some healthy habits to consider incorporating into your routine to help make shiftwork, and sleep, easier. 

Shiftwork can have several challenges that impact both the individual as well as immediate family, especially those living in the same household. You may feel disconnected at times from your partner or children, be more agitated and overwhelmed, or struggle with choosing rest over spending time with your loved ones. However, there are some tips to consider helping you manage shiftwork. 

Create a routine 
We understand that establishing a consistent routine when working shiftwork can be challenging. It isn’t, however, impossible. As much as you are able, try to carve out specific times that you will spend sleeping, exercising, and spending quality time with your family and friends. While this may look different depending on your shift, and what that entails, staying on a schedule will benefit you both mentally and physically.  

It is key to communicate with other members of your household so that they understand what you need, and how best they can support you. Inform family members of when you will be sleeping so that everyone in the home is aware of your sleep schedule. This way, activities outside of the home may be planned, and all members of the home understand that it is important for you to rest and recharge. If you are working multiple night shifts, for example, plan to spend an allotted time with family prior to leaving for your next shift. This will help you stay engaged and connected.  

Practice good sleep hygiene 
Good sleep hygiene is beneficial to everyone, but especially those who work shiftwork. Therefore, try to keep a regular sleep schedule when you aren’t working shifts, and be sure to create an environment that encourages rest. Bright light can impact the quality of your sleep, so try to sleep in a room that has blackout curtains or wear a sleep mask.  

Since you will be resting during the day, when most people are active, you might want to consider a comfortable pair of earplugs to block out noise or run a white noise machine to eliminate excess sounds that can impact your sleep. If possible, rest in a room that is removed from the main traffic of your home, as you are more likely to have a better sleep. 

Prioritize sleep 
When you have been working long hours, it can be tempting to dismiss the importance of rest and plan activities with family and friends. However, it is key to understand that to be the best version of yourself, you must allow your body and mind time to recover after your shifts. Rather than trying to “tough it out” because you feel guilty or are worried about missing out, your sleep should be top priority. This is why communicating with your friends and family is so vital to your well-being. In being open and honest with what you need, they will be more than willing to support you, and understand the importance of sleep. 

Your safety and well-being are of the utmost importance. Be sure to take care of yourself, and your sleep routine, to ensure you are the best version of yourself both at home and at work.

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