rotating shifts

Reply Mon 3 Sep, 2012 04:15 pm
I will soon be rotating day and 12hour night shifts I was hoping for sleeping suggestions
Reply Mon 3 Sep, 2012 04:28 pm


Working Shifts: 9 Tips for Better Sleep

If your job requires that you work the night shift or hours other than the traditional 9 to 5, you need to pay close attention to your sleep. These tips can help you get good sleep:

1. Try not to work a number of night shifts in a row. You may become increasingly more sleep-deprived over several nights on the job. You're more likely to recover if you can limit night shifts and schedule days off in between.

2. Avoid frequently rotating shifts. If you can't, it's easier to adjust to a schedule that rotates from day shift to evening to night rather than the reverse order.

3. Try to avoid long commutes that take time away from sleeping.

4. Keep your workplace brightly lighted to promote alertness. If you're working the night shift, expose yourself to bright light, such as that from special light boxes, lamps, and visors designed for people with circadian-related sleep problems, when you wake up.
Circadian rhythms are the body's internal clock that tells us when to be awake and when to sleep. These rhythms are controlled by a part of the brain that is influenced by light. Fleming says that being exposed to bright light when you start your "day" can help train your body's internal clock to adjust.

5. Limit caffeine. Drinking a cup of coffee at the beginning of your shift will help promote alertness. But don't consume caffeine later in the shift or you may have trouble falling asleep when you get home.

6. Avoid bright light on the way home from work, which will make it easier for you to fall asleep once you hit the pillow. Wear dark, wraparound sunglasses and a hat to shield yourself from sunlight. Don't stop to run errands, tempting as that may be.

7. Stick to a regular sleep-wake schedule as much as you can.

8. Ask your family to limit phone calls and visitors during your sleep hours.

9. Use blackout blinds or heavy curtains to block sunlight when you sleep during the day. "Sunlight is a potent stimulator of the circadian rhythm," Fleming says. "Even if your eyes are closed, the sunlight coming into the room tells your brain that it's daytime. Yet your body is exhausted and you're trying to sleep. That discrepancy ... is not a healthy thing for the body to be exposed to."
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Reply Mon 3 Sep, 2012 07:24 pm
At one time, I saw a study indicating that it made lots of difference whether you rotated from day to night, or from night to day. I suppose, though, that if you're doing 12 hour shifts, it might not make any difference.
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Reply Mon 3 Sep, 2012 07:43 pm
If you are rotating against the clock you are going to probably have issues. Against the clock would be going from morning shift to nights to afternoons to morning. The length of the rotations is also important, the longer time on a shift the better. Rotating each week is very bad doing it against the clock is worst. Just two twelve hour shifts would work in the same way; you want to go from day shift to night shift.

Your best bet is to move your sleep one hour per night (depending on length of rotation). This will keep you from having an abrupt change at the end of each shift rotation. It really works for most people.

Having been there, done that, I can also add that there is much research done on shift work. Not only have the negative health issues been verified other issues have also been noted. I think it was a 3M study of one of its mining operations that showed by changing rotation to be with the clock and lengthening the time on a shift they reduced work accidents by something like 25% and increased productivity by 1/3! Still some companies will not make these changes.

If this is your first time with shift rotation, good luck, it is not as easy as it looks and some people just cannot get their bodies to adjust. You might notice yourself getting more disagreeable, aggressive, and depressed. This may lead to people assuming you are a veteran of A2K, but don't let that bother you :-)
Reply Mon 3 Sep, 2012 07:58 pm
Thanks for your comment. I am over50 and was placed on a rotating 12 hour night shift from days. Any ideas on how to stay awake for that time
Reply Mon 3 Sep, 2012 08:32 pm
Your worst time will be about 3 am to 5 am (this is also a peak of accidents/injuries) and you will probably not be happy to hear you will begin waking up about 7-8 a.m. no matter what. This has to do with physiology, cortisone is release en mass about 7-8 a.m. and this signals the body it is morning and a cascade of other reactions take off. This just means you can be dead tired but have virtually no chance of sleep, at least for a few hours.

Staying awake is an individual thing but I can give you a few suggestions. Stimulants DO help, so coffee is your friend. Standing is better than sitting and walking is best. Some people are kept awake by some over the counter drugs like antihistamines, but these are best used sparingly. This one even amazed me, but it is extremely difficult to fall asleep if you are eating something – baby and puppy videos to the contrary notwithstanding.

I had a one hour highway commute home when I did shift work and always kept food in the car. I often went into micro-sleep episodes and experienced dreams while still being aware of driving. It was weird and interesting but very dangerous! I tried head out the window in sub-zero weather, slapping myself in the face, nothing worked. A friend told me about eating and it was the one thing that worked.

Since I don’t know what you will be doing all this sums up to…get as much sleep as possible, do try moving your bedtime as I suggested above, if possible movement is better than sitting, munching on something is a BIG help especially when falling asleep, be prepared for the 3am to 5am crunch – there is not much you can do about that. And remember the immortal words of Candid’s Dr. Pangloss.
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