How to deal with shift work?

My daughter has started shift work, which will not be at all regular, eg, 2 weeks of days, then a 2 weeks consisting of all night, 3 early and 3 late. What would you suggest is the best way of dealing with this?

Last night she finished at 10pm, and aware that today she will be doing her first ever (!) all nighter she decided to stay up until 4am this morning so that she could sleep during today. I realise she is not a member of community but I expect that there are members of the community who are shift workers.

Posted 8 Sep 2011 at 6:05 AM
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  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I tend to find that I enjoy better sleep when working a night shift. However transitioning back to the day shift is when I normally encounter sleep problems.

    I was wondering if others have encountered the same problem or whether they have found a solution.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Sorry that nonone could help you Othalian! My daughter does 9 night shifts over a 6 week period and when she books time off, she goes for the days when she does nights, which is a good plan I think!

  • Sleepio Member

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    Session 1

    Hi there, I do a 7 day fortnight of 12 hour shifts comprising f a long ween ( Mon, Tue, Fri Sat Sun ) then a short week (Wed, Thur). All shifts start at 6am and end at 6pm. When I have done this for two weeks it flips to the same pattern but nights, 6pm – 6am.
    I ave worked this pattern for almost 9 years and it has slowly destroyed me. I have now been working just days since October and found it more difficult than ever to get to sleep. This is very upsetting as I was looking forward to it as a chance to recover. Instead I am worse than I have ever been. The shifts are starting again in a few weeks and I'm nit sure how I am going to cope.
    I'm sorry as this probably isn't the positive advice you needed but I would say stay away from shift work if possible. It has advantages such as being able to do things in the eek when not many people are around (like going to the bank). However, overall I have found the impact on my physical and mental health overwhelmingly bad.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    How are you getting on juden – sounds horrendous having to cope with shifts and I think you will need extra support and advice about how to work this Sleepio programme and be on shifts that change. I wonder if othalian or ripvanwinkel are following this discussion and if not you could go onto there pages to see if they have any words of wisdom to offer.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I have just completed session 3, and it's given me some concerns. Now I am told to stick to a sleeping pattern that I will not be able to maintain around my shifts in the long term, and I have no idea what to do when my shifts change. Does anyone else work shifts? And how do you deal with restricted sleeping around those shifts? I would really appreciate hearing about some other people's experiences and workarounds. Many Thanks.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Hi quarmarama,
    I've no personal experience of shift work. However in the Library there is an article entitled “ Shift work and sleep”. Also HSE and BUPA websites,among others might be helpful to you? I hope so.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Why – if it fits in with your shifts – don't you try asking in the live session on Wednesday? Or if it doesn't fit in with shifts, ask anyway in advance and then check out the reply later…

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Thanks. I've checked out other articles but can't find anything that related specifically to how to do the restricted sleep schedule with shifts. I will try the live session.
    Thanks for your advice

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Hello

    I am on week 3 of the program and looking for some suggestions regarding night shift. I am a nurse and work mostly day shifts but every 3 weeks I do a set of 3 12 hr night shifts (7pm to 7 am). I have read lots of information about managing sleep etc when during night shifts but my question is how to work this program into these periods when I am on nights. I have a reasonable decent time sleeping during the day and in fact find myself sleepier when I have to do a long day shift after a night of not sleeping. Getting back on track from a night shift pattern is a difficult thing at times

    One question I have is for suggestions on how to handle the situation where I get off a night shift and go home to sleep, say from 830-4pm, how to get back on track that night

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hi if I do a night shift which is not often I sleep deprive myself getting up no later than 13.00 hrs on the day that I stop so that I can go to bed later that night and sleep it tends to work for me.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Hi Guys,

    I've recently signed upto Sleepio and am currently in my first week collating my sleep diary pattern. I've suffered with insomnia for the last 2 years. To make matters worse, I'm a shift worker! I currently work 11 hour shifts- 7pm to 6am. I then take a week off and try to revert back to night sleep for 7 nights before commencing night shifts again.
    I've been a shift worker for 20 plus years. At the moment, I'm very lucky if I grab 1-2 hours sleep. O dear!! I have tried valerium, lavender oils and withdrawn caffeine. I have even purchased a Mindspa machine and although the device prevents my mind running off, I'm still gravely struggling to get adequate deep sleep. My energy levels are very low. I hope someone in the community can provide input concerning shifts work and the problems associated with this disorder. I feel like I'm in a vicious cycle as I enjoy exercising, but at present feel so lethargic it's difficult to find any energy to run or cycle. Please, please HELP me

    Thanks you Guys. Bash

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    This goes against the sleepio plan of a set time but in my opinion someone doing flexible work hours also needs to have some flexibility in sleep times. I have moved my time holus bolus, to when my shifts allow.
    Also someone mentioned ages ago about coming off a night & transitioning to normal hours on days off. In my opinion there's no perfect way but 2 that I have found useful
    1) take Upto 2 hours nap, no more as soon as you can to take the edge off, then get upright & off the bed. Do not stay there & think you'll get up in a minute, it won't work you will go back to sleep. Have a cup of tea or something & when you're compus mentus you can get on with whatever you want to do. The day may be mostly wasted or you may get a new lease on life. Then go to bed at night when you feel tired. This needs to be before you hit the magic number (which was around 11pm for me) when the body says ..oh we're on a night shift & the lights go on inside your head. When you hit that time it will be much harder to get to sleep no matter how tired you are. Work out what this time is for you.
    2) this is harder. Just stay awake till the evening and crash early. Of course you will be generally zombified if you take this option, but if you haven't napped early enough, it sure beats staying awake all night. If you take this option do not go out that night, I did that once. Went to a party where they had bolognaise beanbags & red wine. I didn't fall asleep but after eating then drinking a few sips I sat in the twilight zone which amused my friends, but was totally pointless. I mainly concentrated on not sleeping. God only knows why in retrospect :)
    To get ready for the night shift after days off, take a nap for an hour or 2 in the afternoon or evening before your shift. If you can't sleep just relax or listen to a meditation, relaxing music or whatever you find can zen you out a bit that isn't medicinal.
    Good luck hope this helps

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I've just started Sleepio due to sleep problems related to my work schedule. I'm a pilot, so not getting sleep means calling in for work. The problem is that I've been flying late trips for the past year, but now I'm suddenly getting very early trips. We also have trips where you fly until late (say midnight). You don't get to bed until 1am, then sleep until 9am-ish. Then you are have all day free, but have a very early morning the following morning. Usually, you would have to report at 5:30am or so. So that means you have to go to be going to be at 8:30pm. I don't know about you guys, but I don't sleep well after being awake only 11 or 12 hours.

    I've never had much trouble in the past, but now if I don't fall asleep right away, I get worried and then that stress keeps me up all night.

    I've been reading more and more about the health detriments of shift work. It concerns me.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    There was a really interesting programme about the effects of shift work on health on BBC Radio 4 a couple of nights ago. Not sure if it can be accessed outside the UK. Well worth a listen for anyone interested in this topic. The journalist, Sarah Montague, explained that she loves her job and so is willing to pay the price of poor sleep and worries about future health. There are lots of people who aren't in that position though (of getting to choose whether or not to do it). I was really surprised to learn that some countries such as Denmark have accepted the need to pay compensation to long-term shift workers who become ill, because the evidence of a link between shift work and certain health problems is so strong. It goes beyond 'just' poor sleep. There is something about making the body and mind undertake work during hours of darkness that really upsets the biological system if done over a very long period.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Did you get any advice from the live session? I am also a shift worker at session 3 and am worried about how to make the sleep restriction plan work. Thanks!

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    when do you sleep when you work the night shift? do you take a nap at work at all?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 12 comments
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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    thank you for your comments. It's good to hear someone say it's OK to have some “flexible sleep times” when you do shift work. I think the trick is figuring out what works best for you personally which is difficult. I can't sleep when I get home- I am a morning person however I might be able to sleep 1-2 hrs before I leave work. I will try this to take the edge off then sleep again before going back in to work – 7pm to 7am shifts 3-5 times a month – never the same days although I could try to request something “regular”

  • Sleepio Member

    • 26 comments
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    Graduate

    I work shifts but the routine is very erratic as I am a student midwife so do uni/placement in blocks of 6 weeks. While on placement I can be doing 5 short days, 3 long days or 3 long nights, depending on the work pattern of the dept I am working in. I used to work alternate weeks days/nights doing 4 days one week then 4 nights the following week. This is when my sleep problems really began, but do not really think the shifts were the main problem (I was going from some really messy stuff with my son and school and my anxiety was sky high) but the alternate shifts did exacerbate the problem. I also have a partner that is a fidget in bed and is unable to move gently in bed (throws himself around the bed all night) so night shifts can be a relief sometimes (bed to myself in the day). He does not see it as his problem but mine for being a “light sleeper” (his words). When on nights I do take pills to help me sleep in the day and I do tend to obsess more about how many hours sleep I have had. Eating routine is erratic when on shifts too, which probably adds to the problem (I tend to only have some cereal when waking before work then a snack at work, when on nights – great for weight loss but not for my body, esp as I am have pernicious anaemia and need more nutrients than most). My pattern on nights tends to be get home at 9:15am, bed by 10:15am, then up again at 5pm and out of the house at 6:30pm. When I wake during my day time sleeps I do look at the clock and am constantly adding up how much sleep I have had and how much more I can have. I do not think I could sleep in the day without pills, so even if this programme resolves my insomnia, I will still be taking pills when sleeping in the day – something I know many shift workers do. Has anybody found they can do shifts without the aid of meds?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 27 comments
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    Graduate

    I have a regular shift…overnights.

    I'm usually getting into bed around 10 a.m., and I fall right asleep, but I sleep about 4 to 5 hours, and then I'm awake again. I don't seem to feel tired while at work, but on the weekends, I've been known to fall asleep at times I'm usually awake.

    I think that the problem there is I'm not actively engaged in doing something. Watching TV or reading really is not particularly physical.

    I thought I might find out why I don't sleep longer than five hours on a regular basis. My sleep score is only 2% different than the average for men my age, so I'm not sure I'm suited for the program.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Session 4

    Hi I do shifts a mix of long days 7am-7:30pm, short shifts which can range between 6-7.5hrs and nights often all in the same week! You get used to it- I did a stint in clinic so had the same shifts Mon-Fri I found it more tiring than shifts- especially since I could never get a lie in at the weekend since I automatically woke up at the times I had to Mon-Fri! I have just completed week 3- the sleep programme and what I did was devise 3 schedules based on if I was working the next day, or off or on nights. So sometimes I was in bed by 10:15pm if getting up early (5:30) or 11:45pm if off or on a late shift the next day. night shift a bit more problematic since have to have a reduced wind down period so I keep the sleep time accurate. I haven't tried it yet since not on nights for a couple of weeks so don't know whether it will work but you tend to sleep lighter and shorter periods. Before I start my first night I tend to wake up normal time but have a nap in the afternoon even if it is just a lie down and I don't go to sleep. Food gets mixed up but I tend to have main meal when I get up, breakfast meal before bed and something thats light and easily digestible during the shift. When night shift period is finished I have found as I have gotten older it has got more difficult to readjust sleep pattern- but I agree 2-4 nights in a row better than the odd 1. I try and stay a wake all day so plan to do something for the day to keep myself active and away from a comfy couch or bed to snooze on though doesn't always work! If I need to I have a short sleep in the morning-2-3hrs only to recharge batteries.

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