Jan 21, 2008

Tips for getting better sleep

Taking sleep seriously is important for everyone, and doubly important for shiftworkers, because it can be harder to come by. To get the sleep you need requires your attention and focus, especially when you're working on the night shift.

A regular sleeping schedule, whether during the day or night, is more likely to result in a good amount of sleep.

Whenever possible, sleep when you can. Plan activities around your sleep time, not your sleep around other activities. This way you won’t reduce or sacrifice sleep.

You may need to trick your body into thinking it is sleeping at night. If you’ve been up all night, try sleeping early in the day, because generally it is better and easier to do so. Going to bed later generally means you’ll wake too soon and won’t be able to get back to sleep. If you’re inclined to do so, preparing a special room helps for daytime sleeping (you may be able to get one long sleep period).

If you are over 40 your sleep will probably be different to when you were 24. You sleep worse at night and tend to be more drowsy and susceptible to microsleeps. For older shiftworkers, it is more difficult to stay awake at night and to sleep during the day.

Here are some sleep tips to help you fall asleep, and stay asleep:

  • Sleep in a room away from traffic and neighborhood noises.
  • Install double-glazing to help to reduce noise and assist with temperature control.
  • Use an air conditioner to control room temperature and to provide “white noise” that will mask other external noises.
  • Install insulation, as it will assist to maintain temperatures during summer and winter.
  • Use an answering machine or unplug the phone to reduce interruptions.
  • Install light-blocking curtains or shates and close them when you're trying to sleep.
  • Learn to relax (muscle relaxation, breathing techniques). There are books and CDs available to help.
  • Enlist family members to support your sleep time, get them to use headphones if watching TV or listening to music.
  • Go to bed at similar times during the day or night, this might help you get off to sleep a bit faster.
  • Let others know you’re trying to sleep during the day, so they can try to keep the noise down. Place a "do not disturb" sign on your door.
  • Develop bedtime routines, they allow your body and mind to shift gear and get ready for sleep. You could for example, shower, read, listen to relaxing music, clean your teeth, go to the toilet, check the locks, etc.
  • If you can’t go straight to sleep, don’t panic. Listen to music, read, watch TV (but not in bed). Do something you find relaxing and easy. Get out of bed and return when you feel ready to sleep.
I hope you find these helpful.


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