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Old Feb 10, 2010, 04:36 AM   #1
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Best way to deal with night shifts

I am interested in hearing suggestions or advice on how to deal with night shift to keep you healthy. I need to manage evening staffs at my distribution center and I usually end up staying there till 3 or 4 am every day. Usually my work starts at 13:00 or 15:00 to accommodate my nocturnal nature of my work schedule. At least I am being paid extra for hours after 22:00, as that is the labor regulation of the land here in Japan. But, I have a difficulty to start my day during my day off. I need to have 2 days off instead of one day off because I would end up sleeping till late morning on my day off (because of my work day on the previous day).
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Old Feb 10, 2010, 08:11 AM   #2
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Well I used to work 10pm to 8am 4 days a week for a year and a half.

What people would do to make things better was stay up after they came home until noon or so, then go to bed. I guess the thinking is that if you sleep right after your shift, then you get tired near your the end of shift instead of being used to being up later. I could never do this though.

Also people say not to change your sleeping habits, even on your days off. Again I couldn't do this as I had a girlfriend.

What I would do if I were you is when you are working, try to stay up 2 or 3 hours past your end of the shift. Then on your first day off sleep for only 4 or 5 hours until 8 or 9 am, so you are still tired and can go to bed at a regular time later in the day.

Good luck. I hated it.
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Old Feb 10, 2010, 09:51 AM   #3
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I worked grave's for a better part of 5 years. Going back to the shift in the very near future. 2200-0600.

What worked for me.

1) I did not eat heavy meals on my shift. I snacked.
2) When I got home I would eat a small breakfast (keeps me in the normal eating range ie breakfast in morning, lunch when I wake up, Dinner before I go to work) Then I would got to bed.
3) I actually slept my normal pattern on my days off
4) I also would set my alarm and get 6 - 7 hours a of sleep. Depending on how tired I was. But I would force myself to get up.
5) I went to my local home decor store and purchased the darkest curtains I could find. Made my room pretty darn black. We have A.C. and a fan so the weather wasn't an issue
6) I also purchased one of those sleep masks and a comfy set of ear plugs for those summer days when everyone and there mother is out.

Good luck and yes the shift does suck!
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Old Feb 10, 2010, 10:23 AM   #4
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I worked 'overnights' for years. Sounds like your shift is longer than i had to deal with on a regular basis...I worked generally 8 or 9 hours. You are in sometimes from 1PM-4AM?? That is brutal.

I echo the fact that you NEED to maintain a similar sleep schedule on your day(s) off. The thing that causes the most issues for shift workers is adjusting the sleep schedule. If you work overnights 5 days a week, but on the weekend, sleep like a 'normal' person, you are radically shifting your internal clock twice in a few days time and this murder on your body.

I don't think this will work for you, but when I worked from 3AM-noon, I split my sleep to be able to do things in the evening. I took a 3 hour afternoon nap, then 4-5 hours of sleep before work, having my evenings free to be with my wife after she came home from work, or to hang with friends. BUT, I also did the nap thing on the weekends and slept 4-5 hours overnight...with some shifting of that by maybe 2 hours which doesn't affect you horribly.

Consistency is the key. Keep the same or at least very similar schedule on days off.

Ditto the black-out curtains/eyemask/earplugs. I actually had black plastic over my windows. It made noon as dark as midnight.

Turn off your phone if possible. Nothing worse than getting a call in the middle of the 'night'.

Don't have any food suggestions other than it's easy to eat poorly on this schedule. And I couldn't eat breakfast after work...YUK...I was always looking for 'real' food by 9 or 10AM. My meals mirrored what a typical person would eat: breakfast when I woke up, lunch about 5-6 hours in and then dinner actually (in my schedule) in the eve after my nap.
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Old Feb 10, 2010, 12:23 PM   #5
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Old Feb 10, 2010, 10:28 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by mstrze View Post
Consistency is the key. Keep the same or at least very similar schedule on days off.
I have to agree. I worked 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM schedule, Mon-Fri for two years. Got of work, home and in bed by 7:30 AM, slept until about 3:00 PM.

Even on my days off I kept the same schedule. Also, I suggest you darken your bedroom with a good set of curtains. Too much light makes it more difficult to set your body's clock to a night shift since humans aren't nocturnal by nature. A dark room will make it easier to sleep.

If you have friends who work the night shift (I had only one) meet at Denny's or some other place that's open 24 hrs and have a sunday at 2:00 AM. Join a gym that's open 24 hours if that's available. There are some in my area.
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