Proper sleep is very important, I think even more so than diet and exercise. A few nights of poor sleep WILL cause a lot of negative effects on the body… let alone months of it.
Most of us are not getting deep, quality sleep and this is especially true for night shift workers.
Shift Work Health Problems
- heart attacks
- high blood pressure
- And the biggest problem of all, which is sleep problems – such as trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep
There is one underlying cause of all of these problems and I’ll tell you about it in a minute.
However, there is a secondary type of health problem and that is emotional – such as:
- Isolation & loneliness – since you’re on a different type of schedule than your friends and family
Now, what’s linked to all of these problems is the disruption of the natural sleep/wake cycle… Which affects how the body functions and interferes with the natural release of hormones and chemicals in the body.
And two powerful hormonal imbalances are:
- melatonin – the sleep hormone
- cortisol – the stress hormone.
You see, the problem is that on a normal schedule and circadian rhythm, your stress hormone cortisol is high in the morning – to wake you up and energize you. This is especially important to get sunlight first thing in the morning.
Then at night, cortisol drops, and melatonin increases to get you ready for sleep. Now we want nighttime, dim lights, and so forth.
But when you’re on the night shift, especially the midnight – 8 am, the opposite is happening.
Night Shift Solutions
So let’s talk about solutions… which by the way, can be used by anyone who wants better sleep.
The MOST important thing for shift workers is to keep the SAME schedule every day. Yes, that means the weekends too.
By doing this, you reset your circadian rhythm to a more customized version for YOU. Your body will adapt and now your cortisol and melatonin levels will be more consistent and better.
Granted, it’s still not going to be as good as a regular shift worker and this is where taking natural supplements to help optimize your cortisol and melatonin levels becomes very important.
However, let’s keep going with the solutions:
When it’s time for you to go to bed, you need to prepare your body for sleep. This means about an hour or two before going to bed, you need to:
- Make your home darker. This means black-out curtains, and dimming the lights in your home. You need to create a feeling as if it’s nighttime.
- About an hour before bed, take a sleep-promoting supplement that contains melatonin, but also additional herbs to help your body and mind relax. I take Deep Sleep Formula.
- If you feel stressed… physically or emotionally. Then chances are your cortisol and stress hormones are elevated. So, you need to lower cortisol levels.
The two best ways are eating a higher carbohydrate meal about an hour or two before bed. And taking specific herbs and vitamins that are proven to lower cortisol and stress hormones. I take Stress & Cortisol Relief.
- Noise can also be a problem since the rest of the world is up, so I would suggest wearing earplugs or using a sound machine.
So, that’s the sleep part. Ideally, you wake up without an alarm.
When you do, if there’s light out, go outside as soon as possible and get sunlight on your body and eyes. It’ll reset your circadian rhythm in a positive way.
Try to also exercise within a couple of hours of waking up to jump-start your body and hormones. It can be as little as a brisk 20-30 min walk.
Things To Avoid
Also, don’t consume any caffeine products within 8 hours of bedtime. Ideally, the coffee for example will be consumed within a couple of hours after waking up … but not all day long because it’ll negatively affect your sleep.
Same with alcohol. It might make you sleepy and tired, but it causes poor REM sleep, and sleep quality drops dramatically.