Shift Work – How to Make the Transition

sleepy man in bed reaches for his alarm clock

Do you struggle with sleeping or eating patterns while trying to adjust your sleep schedule to work with your shifts? Find yourself staring at the ceiling when you know you need to get your precious rest?

This is a common issue amongst all shift workers: how to balance your home life when your work life is barely the same week to week. It’s difficult to set up a routine when things are constantly changing.

However, there are many coping strategies that you can use to help yourself adjust to these hectic schedules, such as changing the lighting, temperature or the things you eat or drink before bed. These suggestions can help you set yourself up for a good night’s sleep versus hours of staying up, staring at the ceiling and tossing and turning.



• Use curtains with block-out backing, blinds or cover windows with black plastic garbage bags to reduce the light level in your bedroom during the day.
• Make sure the temperature in the bedroom isn’t too warm – cool conditions help you get to sleep and stay asleep.
• Try to make your bedroom as soundproof as possible. An air conditioner or fan can help mask external noise. Some people even prefer to wear earplugs while they are sleeping.
• If possible, unplug the phone or turn the ringers off in your bedroom. Also let all friends and family know your schedule so that they do not disturb you by coming over or phoning.
• Avoid caffeinated beverages before sleep, such as coffee, tea and green tea. Also avoid alcohol as it can make you sleepy at first but its effects can reduce the amount of deep sleep that you get. Eating a heavy meal late at night can also keep you awake.
• Some Shift Workers need time to unwind between work and bedtime while others prefer to go straight to bed. Sometimes reading a book or watching a little T.V can help your body and mind to wind down after a long day or night.

Another great resource for information on coping strategies can be found in the Canada Post Shift Workers Handbook.

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