Shift Work Sleep Disorder – Overview

Light and dark affect how the body makes melatonin. Most melatonin is made at night. During the day, light tells your body to make less melatonin. If you work at night in artificial light, your body may be making less melatonin than it needs.

What can you do to sleep better when you work nights?

Sometimes sleep problems can be fixed only by switching to a regular work schedule-working in the day and sleeping at night.

But many people are able to work the night shift by making a few changes. You can help yourself get good sleep by keeping your sleeping environment dark and quiet and by taking good care of yourself overall. In some cases, short-term use of prescription medicine or over-the-counter supplements may help.

Control light, sound, and temperature

  • Make sure that the room where you sleep is dark. Use blackout drapes or wear a sleep eye mask.
  • Put a towel over bright digital devices, such as a clock.
  • Wear dark wraparound glasses when you drive home in the daylight hours after working nights. This can counter some of the effect of light so your body will be more ready to sleep when you get home.
  • Wear earplugs to block sounds.
  • Use a “white noise” machine if there is distracting sound in the house or neighborhood that you can’t avoid.
  • Keep the room at about 65°F (18°C). It’s hard to sleep in a room that is too hot or too cold.

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