Sleep Tips for Night Shift Workers

86492401-smallThe human body is naturally wired to be awake during the day and to sleep at night. However not all career paths offer the luxury of sleep while the sun is down. Emergency room nurses, late night security guards and bakers are all working hard through the night while the rest of us are sleeping.

It’s common that people who work the later shifts don’t get enough quality sleep and are more prone to developing work shift sleep disorder (SWSD). SWSD is a circadian rhythm sleep disorder involves a problem with your body’s 24-hour internal clock. Light and dark help your body know when to be active and when to rest. When these are reversed, your body’s internal clock needs to be reset in order to let you sleep during the day.

There are ways you can help your body get better sleep during the day and feel more active during your shift at night:

Create a Restful Environment

To encourage uninterrupted sleep, turn off or unplug your phone and hang blackout shades on the windows. Schedule appointments and other activities outside of your designated “sleep period”. This includes letting family and friends know to not disturb you during these times of the day.

Take a Short Nap before your Shift

Napping for up to 30 minutes just before working a late night shift can help increase alertness and enhance your performance. Napping also helps quicken reaction time, improves your memory, and helps prevent you from making mistakes in the work place. Keep your naps short though, the longer your nap, the more likely you are to feel groggy when you wake up.

Stick to a Routine

Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day helps promote good sleep. Being consistent is very important, even if this means maintaining your new sleep schedule on weekends and days off.

Make Healthy Life Choices

Eat a healthy diet and include physical activity into your daily routine. If exercise energizes you, plan to work out after you wake up, rather than before you go to sleep. Resist the temptation to use junk food or nicotine to stay awake, as well as avoiding alcohol to help you get to sleep.

If these tips don’t help, consult your doctor or a sleep specialist. Sometimes other underlying factors, such as sleep apnea, may be hindering your ability to get a good night’s (or day’s) sleep.

Health Benefits of Sleep

Getting adequate quality sleep at night is a key part of a healthy lifestyle and can benefit your heart, weight and mind. It not only helps you feel healthier and more energized, but it also goes beyond boosting your mood and getting rid of dark circles under your eyes.

Curb Inflammation

Inflammation is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and premature aging. Research indicates that people who get six or less hours of sleep a night have higher levels of inflammatory proteins in their blood than those who get more hours of sleep a night.

Reduce Risk of Getting Sick

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Lack of sleep can suppress your immune system, which makes you vulnerable to infections. During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Cytokines are the proteins in your body that aid cell to cell communication in immune responses and stimulate the movement of cells toward sites of inflammation, infection and trauma. When your body is tired and not getting enough rest, these proteins and the cells used to fight off inflammation and infection are not reproducing.

Avoid Accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that being tired accounted for the highest number of fatal, single-car, run-off-the-road crashes due to the driver’s performance – even more than alcohol. Insufficient sleep for just one night can be as detrimental to your driving ability as having an alcoholic drink.

Improve Performance

Getting extra sleep can even improve athletic performance. Five swimmers were monitored as part of a study in 2008. They extended their sleep to 10 hours a day for six to seven weeks. At the end of the study the athletes could swim faster and react more quickly.

Many of us try to sleep as little as possible. While so many things seem more interesting or important than getting a few more hours of sleep, just like exercise and nutrition are vital to staying healthy, so is getting a good night’s rest.

Tips for Sleeping in a Tent

Most people are used to sleeping indoors in the comfort of their own bed. Camping lets you spend the night in remote places and take a break from the luxurious comforts of home. Next time you’re planning on sleeping outdoors, keep these tips in mind:

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Get the Right Bedding

There are a number of bedding options available for tent camping. Whatever product you do end up choosing, make sure it packs small and inflates comfortably. This keeps you off the hard ground and gives you the freedom to adjust firmness. Pillows can make all the difference when it comes to staying snug in your car or tent, and a makeshift pillow can be made by stuffing extra clothes inside a T-shift.

Manage Noise

While some campers love to the let sounds of nature lull them to sleep, others have trouble sleeping through the chirping of insects throughout the night. If you area  light sleeper, ear plugs are essential when sleeping outdoors. They’re small, cheap and disposable and should be used whenever you plan on sleeping somewhere new.

Control the Temperature

Even in the summer, temperatures can drop to chilly points during the night, especially in higher elevations. Scout your destination’s weather report ahead of time to make sure your sleeping bag is made for the right temperature. If necessary, sleeping bag liners can add up to 25 degrees of warmth.

Keep it Dry

Sleeping in a tent is made much worse if half of your body is in a puddle of water. Don’t risk getting wet by bringing a waterproof tarp when camping. Tarps can also be made into a canopy, used as a layer under your tent to keep water from seeping through the seams, and can even be thrown over the top of your tent for added protection again rain.

How to Avoid Sleeping and Yawning During the Day

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Falling asleep during the day can be relaxing and re-energize you for a night out later. However, sleeping during an important meeting or class can lead to yelling, detention or even losing your job. Reckless slumbering also often leads to missing out on the entire day, as comfortable as it may seem.

Getting a good night’s sleep is the most important step to keeping yourself awake during the day. A good 8 hours is recommended, so it’s best to finish your work early so you can be in bed by 10 o’clock.

Eating is an easy way to keep you awake and energized when you’re hungry. An empty stomach is a major cause of sleepiness in people. The food affects the hypothalamus and regulates its production of sleep-causing hormones.

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If you are feeling tired at work, try to take frequent small walks in the office space intermittently. It will help activate and energize your brain.

Remember to give your eyes a break and occasionally look away from your screen is you work on a computer most of the day. Monitors continuously re-display their contents and the brain cannot pick up on these changes, but your eyes can and it makes them extremely tired.

Although it is impossible to feel fully rested every day, maintaining a healthy diet as well as getting a good night’s sleep the night before are great steps to helping yourself remain energized throughout the day.

How to Prevent Snoring

Chronic snoring affects up to 45% of the adult population. Habitual snorers can be at risk for serious health problems, including obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea creates several problems, including:

– Long interruptions of breathing caused by partial or total obstruction or blockage of the airway
– Frequent waking sleep
– Light sleeping
– Strain of the heart
– Poor night’s sleep

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Learning to distinguish between kinds of snoring will help you address the particular causes of that kind of snoring. Closed-mouth snoring indicates that your tongue is the cause of your snoring and that some exercises and lifestyle changes should help eliminate the snoring. Open-mouthed snoring can be caused by sinus trouble or by posture in bed. Snoring from any other position might indicate apnea or other significant issues that will require more substantial medical treatment to address.

It’s important to avoid things that can make snoring worse. Alcohol, sleeping pills, coffee and fatty foods before bedtime can all increase snowing by making your throat muscles relax and narrowing your airway.

Dryness can also cause snoring, so using a humidifier or taking a hot bath or shower before bed can help alleviate snoring as well.

If you sleep on your back, buy yourself a few extra pillows and prop yourself up in bed, rather than lying flat on your back. It is not recommended to sleep on your back because in that position, your tongue and soft palate rest against the back of your throat, blocking the airway.

Remember, snoring is a physical problem. Whether you’re a snorer or live with one, there’s nothing to be embarrassed or angry about. It’s not a conscious choice the snorer is making, but a physical concern that can be remedied with a little planning.