Sleeping tips for shift workers

By Duane Wolfe

Here are five tips from PoliceOne for shift workers looking to improve their sleeping habits:

  1. Make it Dark — The darker the room you sleep in, it the better you will sleep, so darken the windows. Light helps keep you awake — that’s why you seem to perk up when the sun starts coming over the horizon. An old trick I learned in the service was putting aluminum foil over the windows. If you or the chief interior designer isn’t keen about putting aluminum foil over the windows, buy a sleep mask. I know it’s not the most macho piece of equipment, but it works.
  2. Try Melatonin — Take the recommended dosage of Melatonin before you lay down to sleep. It helps get you to sleep.
  3. Watch the Caffeine — Caffeine is a two-edged sword. If you drink it only when you need it to stay awake you’ll require less than the officer who drinks it all the time. Stop drinking it two hours prior to when you want to go to bed. That way it isn’t keeping you from sleeping. Be cautious of where you get your caffeine. Sugar-laden drinks have their own drawbacks, including packing on all those pounds we don’t want.
  4. Eliminate Noise — Buy a pair of ear plugs. If you don’t like the idea of not being able to hear while you’re asleep, buy a large fan or a white noise machine to help block out noises that might disturb you.
  5. Suggest Changes — If you’re truly stuck with shifts like the one I had, gather documentation and studies to show ‘the powers that be’ that the shift you are working is detrimental to your health and safety (you might add that tired cranky cops get more citizen complaints than well rested officers!).

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