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How to Cope with Rotating Shift Work

Shift work can lead to additional stress in our daily lives. Interacting with friends and family during the day may become challenging. The shift worker may experience a feeling of “jet lag” with an increase in irritability. Here’s how you can deal with rotating shift work:

1- Whenever possible, prepare for shift work. Make sure that you get as much sleep on the nights prior to the nights on duty. If possible, a nap prior to the scheduled night shift can be helpful.

2- If you plan to work on a particular schedule for a period of time (weeks or months) then it would be helpful to establish a fixed schedule. If possible, you should try to stick with the schedule on days that you do not work.

3- Maximizing bright light exposure prior to a night shift and minimizing it after a night shift may also prove to be helpful. Bright light exposure is very important in the adjustment of our sleep clock.

4- Make sure that you sleep setting lends itself to a night of comfortable sleep. Ideally, it should be cool, quiet and relaxing.

5- Stimulants such as caffeine may be quite useful, but care should be taken to avoid caffeine too close to your desired bedtime.

6- Relaxation techniques may be helpful when it is time to initiate sleep.

7- Regular, routine exercise is also helpful—but, it should be avoided within 3 hours of sleep onset.

8- Avoid drowsy driving! If needed, take a nap before driving home. If sleeping is still an issue, find an alternative means of returning home.

If you need an app to manage your rotating shift work, download MyShiftWork app