Effects of Day and Night Shifts On Sleep - How To Cope With Night Shifts

Effects of Day and Night Shifts On Sleep - How To Cope With Night Shifts

Majority of people who experience sleeplessness are in job sectors where they have to change their shifts weekly or monthly. The major issue with change in work shifts is the sleeping pattern. Normally, the night time is quiet and dark, which is the perfect environment for sleep. For those working the night shift, sleeping during the day time can be hard. Your biological clock registers daytime as active and night times for sleep. 

Effects of Day and Night Shifts On Sleep - How To Cope With Night Shifts
Effects of Day and Night Shifts On Sleep - How To Cope With Night Shifts

Why the Night Shift Makes You Sleepy

When you go against the body’s natural ways to sleep during the day and work at night, there are bound to be consequences. Some people may have it easier than other but eventually they will fall into a similar health state. When the body is used to a routine for several years, it may be difficult to shift your sleeping patterns. 

Here are the major effects of night shifts and sleeplessness on individuals:

Effect on Your Physical Health

Shifting the timeline of your work is known to cause chronic illnesses such as insomnia, hypersomnia, metabolic issues, weight issues, ulcers obesity and heart diseases.  When you change your work shift from morning to afternoon or night very often, you are bound to take a few hours from your regular sleep patterns. Insufficient sleep changes your metabolism, and appetite which can lead to extreme weights.

Your metabolism is governed by hormones produced by your body. They are released with the timing of your biological clock. Working at night will interfere with the production of leptin, which is critical in regulating your body weight, insulin and blood sugar.  The hormone imbalance in your body can lead to weight gain. Weight gain can worsen insomnia, sleep apnea and other sleeping disorders.

Poor Mental Health

Working on shifts can increase the risk of mental health issues. Issues like stress, depression and anxiety are some of the first signs of mental health illnesses that shift workers experience. The disruption of the circadian system, which regulates body chemicals, leads to stress and mood swings. When you have stress and anxiety it may be difficult to fall asleep.  Poor mental health can lead to serious mental issues.

Effects on Performance

Most shift workers often experience repercussions because of lack of proper sleep. Poor sleep affects your cognitive abilities. It impairs memories, makes learning difficult and slows down your thought processes.  Your productivity and performance can lower due to these reasons.

Working on a night shift goes against your biological clock. Naturally, you are fatigued at night and alert during the day. This encourages you do doss off or sleep of during work.

Safety Issues

Shift work can be very risky.  Fire fighting, police work, medical operators, factory workers and cleaning staff are some of the people who experience shift changes in their workplace. Most of these people use heavy equipment and machinery which can be difficult to operate with little cognitive abilities.

Some of the tasks involved can be a risk to your life and those around you. These jobs involve making quick decisions, critical thinking and fast reflexes. Without enough sleep you may start dosing of at work and cause avoidable accidents and mistakes. Lack of sleep lowers your reaction time, judgment and memory.  

Here are some tips on how to deal with work shifts and poor sleep

Before You Begin Another Shift, Transition Slowly

Several days before your shift starts, you should adjust your sleeping habits.  Use your spare time to slowly transition from the dayshift to the night shift so that your body can have time to adjust.  Manage your time properly to ensure you have zero disruptions when you are transitioning.  Weekends are the best days to start your transition. If you are transitioning form a day to night shift, ensure you have plenty of rest on the weekends.  For best results, you can create a schedule to track your sleeping patterns.

If you live in a noisy environment, try adjusting with white noise

You can’t compare the day and night environment when it comes to sleeping. During the day, there is plenty of noise from several places, usually because most people are alert and active. At night the environment is usually calm and quiet, a perfect environment for sleeping. 

It can be hard to fall asleep with all that noise, especially when you are used to a quite environment. White noise helps eliminate the background noise and keeps you calm and relaxed. In this state, it is easy to fall asleep fast.  Some of the best apps to help you sleep have a variety of white noises to choose from and a calendar where you can schedule your daily activities and your sleeping patterns.

Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol

Caffeine and alcohol are stimulants, which are meant to keep you awake and alert. The effect can last for up to 6 hours. Taking caffeine may mess with your ability to fall asleep easily. Stimulants increase your energy and blood pressure making you active. When you take this too close to your sleeping time, you will lose hours tossing and turning while trying to sleep.

Check Your Room - Drapes

A good sleeping environment should be free of light. When you have to sleep during the day, draw all your curtains to prevent any light from getting to your room. For maximum effect, try putting up dark curtains that will absorb all the light before it can get to your room. Consider wearing a mask to keep the light away from your eyes.

Having a thermostat is a must

Sleeping during the day is nearly impossible, especially when the weather is humid. Hot temperatures tend to keep you awake, even during the night. a thermostat is important to regulate the temperature in your room.  Specialists recommend a temperature of about 67 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

Drink plenty of fluids 

Dehydration can keep you tired and restless during work. Drink plenty of fluid to stay hydrated and keep your hormone balance in check.  A dehydrated person typically has a low metabolism and digestions, and it may be difficult for them to sleep in such conditions.

Melatonin can help reset your internal clock 

Some foods contain a mineral called tryptophan, which can be converted to melatonin when they are digested. Taking foods rich in this mineral before bed will act as a supplement to your low melatonin production and help you sleep easily. Some of these foods include milk, poultry, seafood, nuts, legumes and vegetables.

Final Word

Coping with sleeplessness from work is one of the most stressful tasks. Some of these techniques may help you get better sleep and improve your performance in the workplace. Don’t forget to get the recommended amount of sleep for your mind to function properly.


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