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“They work at night, but try to revert back to daytime on their days off. If you try to reverse, you’ll have a hard time doing it. You have to shift your sleep schedule.”
Here are ways to lessen the chances that working nights will cause problems:
Regulate light and dark. When night-shifters get off work, the sunlight while they’re driving home stimulates them to stay awake, says Dr. David Luterman. “We tell people, ‘Wear dark sunglasses on your way home. Use blackout curtains so when you go into your house, it’s dark.’ ”
Keep it quiet. Tarah Grooms of Methodist Richardson Medical Center recommends wearing ear plugs or playing soft music. “There’s an app for the sound of rain. A lot of nurses use that.”
Sleep when you can. Just sleep. For some people, it may be right after they get off work. Others might want to wind down first.
Use rotating shifts to your advantage. If you have a choice, Luterman says, opt for a day-evening-night shift rotation over night-evening-day. “It’s easier to advance it than to reduce it, just like it’s easier to fly and adapt from Los Angeles to New York than New York back to L.A.”
Make sure your work area is well-lighted.
Adopt healthy practices. Regulate caffeine. To make sure you can sleep when you get off work, Grooms recommends no caffeine past midnight. Drink lots of water. And yes, that evergreen advice: Exercise.