9 Tips for Creating a Sleep Sanctuary for Shift Workers

By the resi financial blog team, 28 November 2014

Sleep sanctuary for shift workers

Around the world, millions of workers are employed in sectors that require 24/7 coverage or extremely late hours. This need has been addressed by 'shift work', the nature of which results in many employees either working long-term night shifts or switching between night and day shifts.  Unsurprisingly, there are issues with shift work - the most prevalent being it wreaks havoc on sleep schedules, resulting in a syndrome known as shift work sleep disorder (SWSD). Characterised by both chronic tiredness and insomnia, one of the most important steps to treat this problem is controlling your sleep environment.

Here are 9 valuable sleep tips for shift workers to help you create a sleep sanctuary.

1. Make your bedroom a place specifically designed for rest

Remove all clutter from the room. Also try to relegate work or business associated material like bills to a separate office space. While the temptation to have the slick big screen on the wall and the gaming system connected is understandable, you won't be doing yourself any favours sleep wise: both the temptation to flip it on after work and the association with your bedroom as an entertainment area pose danger to a quick and solid night's sleep.

2. Ensure there are no sources of internal light

Even light sources that may seem inconsequential can prevent or disrupt sleep. Alarm clocks, iPods and even small LED power lights on electronic devices are examples. A notable fact is that humans seem to be particularly sensitive to blue light in the dark.

3. Keep it quiet

In general, it's suggested that at bedtime, silence is golden. Turn off the TV and radio and shut down that humming laptop (hey, are those still in your room??). For those outside noises you can't control, invest in a comfortable pair of earplugs. Some people, however, swear that soft music or the dull buzz of activity through the windows helps them fall asleep. Since it does seem sleep comes easiest in environments and situations you're used to falling asleep in, it seems here the trick is to know what works for you. In both cases, a white noise machine often helps as well.

4. Attempt to achieve absolute darkness

This tip isn't as flexible - that daylight creeping up after a night shift is bound to make sleep difficult and regular curtains and blinds simply won't cut it. Every shift worker figuring out how to sleep after night shift should invest in, for the very least, a set of blockout curtains for the bedroom. Blockout blinds are often an even better option. It's a bit easier to get a set of these to fit your windows exactly, and many can even be secured to the window-frame, allowing no light in at all.

5. Make sure the temperature's right

It's difficult to fall and stay asleep if your bedroom is too hot or cold. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have central air - if not, make sure you've got a good modern fan that circulates air and cools the room for those warm mornings and an excellent duvet and blankets to keep you warm during the chilly ones.

6. Make your paint and decor sleep friendly

Avoid bright colours and paint types that absorb light. After you turn out the lights, these can emit a dull glow that's surprisingly distracting. Also, think calming and relaxing when decorating. For some that will be minimalist, for others soothing art - but sorry, those multi-coloured death metal posters will definitely have to go.

7. Make sure you bed is just right

Yep, we went there - not too hard and not too soft. It's imperative that you find the right mattress for you, however. Those TV ads are true - different people find different levels of firmness comfortable. Find the one that quickly lulls you to sleep and, when you wake up, has you feeling rested and not sore. 

8. Identify and remove irritants

And we don't just mean your annoying roommate. Many people take it as just a 'night thing' a bit of sniffling when they go to bed. This, however, is likely a sign you've got some sort of irritant in your room or right in your bed that's going to keep you tossing and turning. If this sounds like you, you may want to replace rugs and thick carpet with an attractive area rug. If you're using synthetic pillows, try switching to feather and vice versa. And if those linens are itchy, experiment with different materials.

9. Prepare for sleep success while awake

Lastly, steps taken in the waking hours can help those coping with shift work. Get lots of bright light in the evening/night before your shift (from sunlight mimicking full spectrum lights if possible). When returning home, sunglasses will keep out that early morning light as you prepare for sleep.

If you're thinking about turning your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary, why not have a look at how our renovation loans may be able to help you.

Stewart Graham owns and operates online blinds retailer, Super Blinds Mart.

Reach out to Stewart on Google+ to discuss this post.

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Categories: ;, bedroom makeover, sleep sanctuary, tips for sleeping