Getting Good Sleep on Rotating Shifts

The life of a healthcare professional can be hectic, even during normal times. Today, healthcare workers are under a lot of added pressure. Working rotating shifts are not uncommon, but it can be challenging to your schedule and private life. Here are a few tips to help you not only survive but thrive when working a rotating shift schedule in healthcare.

Eat Well

While sleep is the primary focus, eating well goes hand in hand with healthy behaviors. Eating healthy foods will help you get better sleep. Focus on getting the proper nutrients, avoiding too much caffeine or sugar, and stop eating within a few hours of your designated bedtime. Start the day with a protein-rich meal to give you the fuel you need throughout your shift.

Live By Your Schedule

With a rotating shift, you need to live by your schedule. That means using your regular schedule and adjusting by the hour whenever your shift moves. It’s when you deviate from your schedule that your sleep suffers. Your routine will tell your body, just as much as the time of day, when you’re ready for bed, so don’t deviate from it; adjust it a necessary.

Rotate Shifts Clockwise

Whenever possible, rotate your shifts clockwise. Even though rotating shifts are necessary to ensure continuous coverage, they can lead to health challenges, sleep disturbances, and work/life balance issues. In a study published in 2018, Italian nurses were observed working both clockwise and counterclockwise shift rotations. Those who worked clockwise, shifting their schedule ahead instead of backward, reported better quality sleep and fewer awakenings.

Focus on Quality Sleep

The key is quality sleep. Having more sleep doesn’t necessarily mean healthy sleep. To focus on quality sleep, reduce exposure to screens, including phones and televisions, before bed. Avoid caffeine within hours of your bedtime. Don’t take irregular naps. Avoid alcohol. Adjust your room temperature to be cool and use blackout shades to increases the darkness. Use a calming bedtime routine such as a bath or shower and soothing aromatherapy.

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