For most people, shift work means working against their natural body rhythms.
If you do shift work, you need to be active and alert at night — the time when your body is meant to be asleep — and need to get your sleep in the daytime, when your body is telling you to wake up. Because of this, it's critical for shift workers to establish sleeping habits that are as healthy as possible.
There are some important things to remember if you are a shift worker:
- make time for adequate sleep
- don’t fill up your day with social activities and go to work at night
- ensure your family or people you live with know when you shouldn’t be disturbed where possible
- if possible, sleep before work so you can establish the routine of getting up and going to work
- try to go to bed at the same time every day
- make your room cool and quiet
- remove phones and lights, use ear plugs, a fan or a ‘white noise’ machine to screen out noise
- avoid caffeine, sleeping pills, alcohol or nicotine before going to bed
Sleep Disorders Australia has more information on sleep and shift work.
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Last reviewed: July 2019