We all know how important it is to get a good night’s sleep to restore our energy, particularly after a busy day at work. However, this is often easier said than done – especially if we’re at work while everyone else is snoozing.
Working irregular shifts can play havoc with our sleeping patterns, and with recent research revealing that nearly one in three overnight workers are aged over 50 – it appears to be an issue that knows no age bounds.
Sleep is a vital mechanism for restoration, regardless of your age, as it has many benefits for the body. However, as we get older, good sleep can become increasingly difficult to attain due to a number of different factors.
Among these is a decrease in the levels of melatonin in our bodies, and for those that don’t know, melatonin is the hormone that promotes sleep.
As well as this, insomnia is the most common sleep problem in over 60s, which is also another reason why the older generation may have trouble falling asleep at the desired time. Couple these problems with working night shifts, and it’s very easy to find yourself in an ongoing sleep rut.
A staggering 3.2 million of us change our shift patterns regularly, and by doing this are in turn depriving ourselves of a decent night’s sleep.
Silentnight’s resident sleep expert, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, knows all too well the importance of a restful night’s kip, and has spent years helping shift workers introduce routines to the bedroom.
Although she recognises how hard it can sometimes be to master the balance between work and rest, she believes that there are several things we can incorporate into our daily lives which can improve the way we sleep and rest.
Tips for getting sleep after a night shift:
Maintain a healthy diet and keeping fit
She said: “Try to prevent getting yourself into a routine of eating unhealthy fatty foods and spending the remainder or your free time lounging and being sedentary. Staying active will help you feel less sluggish and will help you gain more energy – it might sound stupid but this can also help you sleep better too.”
Get your body into a healthy routine
“You might find that working consecutively on a night shift and training your body to sleep throughout the day instead is better than constantly shifting your pattern every week. Continually changing your sleeping pattern to fit around your job is inevitably going to confuse your body over time – so try and remain consistent and put yourself first.”
Moderate your caffeine intake
“While it might be easy to grab a coffee to keep us going on a night shift, very few of us think about the half-life of the tea or coffee we’re drinking and the impact it has on our body. The half-life of caffeine is five hours, which means if you have a drink at 5pm, you will still have half that amount in your blood supply by 10pm. Although you probably won’t feel energised by 10pm, the caffeine will still be in your system, which is enough to stop you from sleeping well.”
Although Dr Nerina recognises that it can be difficult to implement these changes into everyday life, she strongly recommends making a conscious effort to integrate them one step at a time to notice improvements – particularly as we get older.
Do you regularly work through the night? Tell us how this has changed your sleeping pattern on our social media pages.