Reducing Insomnia For Those Working The Night Shift


Insomnia can be a by-product of night-shift work due to the demands of having to work during odd hours. A typical case would be like this – a person will operate starting at 11 in the evening, and then gets off at 7 in the morning. This would last for five days a week, and then, they are expected to have a “normal” sleep cycle on the weekends so that they could interact with their friends and family.

Millions of Americans are shift workers, including doctors, nurses, construction workers, police officers, pilots and commercial drivers. — Shelby Harris Psy.D.

What people around them don’t understand is that this cycle of not sleeping at nights can lead to an inconsistent sleep cycle that leaves one feeling tired all the time. The body’s internal clock is unable to make adjustments and cannot adapt to the switching of rest and sleep between night and day activities.

Your body is wired to function during the day and rest at night. This is its normal cycle. And so, if you have shift work, it will be contrary to the natural order of things. Prolonged night shift work can lead to some adverse effects; lack of proper sleep can decrease alertness during waking hours and lead to accidents, reduced efficiency at work, and increase the probability of stress.

In fact, a lot of people’s sleep problems can be attributed to an internal clock that has become out of sync or mismatched with the day-night cycle. — Michael J Breus Ph.D.


Best Practices For Sleep Recovery

Regrettably, night shift work is a mandatory need in most professions, so it would be difficult to avoid. The best one can do to practice some habits that can reduce the adverse effects of shifting hours – here are some examples.

  • Keep a practical schedule for sleep versus family time and socializing. Find time to sleep that will, in turn, maximize the time you can spend with family and friends. Keep this schedule consistent.
  • Be strict about your sleep schedule. Keep to a consistent time for sleep and stick with it. Every hour, on the hour, even on weekends or off days.
  • Plan your activities ahead of time, so they don’t cross your sleep schedule. You may need to find night time options for otherwise day time activities like going to a bank or seeing a 24/7 grocery store.
  • Try to sleep in one long stretch instead of sleeping sporadically and napping in off-hours.
  • Maintain a pleasant sleeping environment by minimizing noise disturbances like phones, doorbells, and TVs. You may also consider getting a white-noise machine or using soft ear-plugs.
  • Keep your room dark by blocking out sunlight or using shades. Exposure to light is the prime factor that signals our bodies to wake, so it’s integral to have precautions to address this. The bright-light machine that’s used for the treatment of seasonal affective disorder can also be helpful for your awake hours.

Environmental disturbances including noisy neighbors, a snoring partner, or a playful pet in bed can make it challenging to catch some Z’s.  — Lauren Woolley, PhD


These are just some examples on how to get some good night’s sleep if you work the night shift. It may work for you if your situation or issues is not that extreme. However, for people with a severe case of insomnia, seek out a medical professional’s help for consultation. It can be shift work sleep disorder. With this problem, you might require a sleep therapy program or some medication to help you with your severe sleep problem.