This helps to send a signal to your brain to start producing melatonin, your sleep-inducing hormone.
When we’re tired, our bodies tend to crave sugar and carbohydrates for a quick energy boost. Tiredness can also lead to problems with appetite regulation. Be aware of this and keep a selection of healthy, low calorie snacks close at hand.
This ties into the circadian rhythms. Eating three meals at evenly spaced intervals during the time you are awake is optimal. Do not eat your biggest meal within 3 hours of going to sleep, as it may affect sleep quality.
Shift workers have an increased risk of stomach problems and are 8 times more likely to develop a peptic ulcer. Eating a diet rich in these foods is thought to decrease the risk of these issues.
It may well be unrealistic to ban caffeine during working hours, but remember that it can interfere with sleep for up to 6 hours after consumption. Try to minimise your intake towards the end of your shift, to improve sleep quality. As a general rule, no caffeine for 4 hours before the time you want to sleep, although 6 hours is better.
If you’re a shift worker, think about investing in blackout curtains and a sleep mask to reduce your exposure to daylight.
This is another way to influence your circadian rhythms, as a drop in temperature normally takes place at night time. An air conditioning unit is a worthwhile addition to the bedroom of a shift worker.
It sounds simple and obvious, but studies have consistently shown shift workers are likely to get less sleep. One study of police officers in America found that those who worked nights were 14 times more likely to get less than 6 hours sleep a day. Aim for 7 to 8 for optimal health and functioning.
The health benefits will help to counteract some of the negative impacts of shift work on the body and mind, plus it helps to reduce stress and promote a feeling of wellbeing.
Make sure you’re not getting interrupted with phone calls, visitors, or demands for your time when you need to be sleeping.
With this technique, you sleep for four hours before your shift starts, and another four when it finishes. It is thought to be beneficial because both sleep segments incorporate part of the time when your circadian rhythm would normally expect the body to be at rest.
A nap of 90 minutes before a night shift has been shown to enhance alertness and stamina.