A lot of people these days work shift work. This means that they could start their jobs during the afternoon and their shift ends late (or early, depending on how you look at it) or their shift could be the complete opposite of what most people do, starting in the evening when others are tucking into bed and finishing up the shift when others are getting up and ready for work. It’s not necessarily just blue collar factory workers either, emergency medical technicians, ER doctors, and nurses all work shift work which requires them to sleep during the day. I’ve spent a lot of time doing shift work and have found a few key things needed to get a proper rest during the day.
The most important thing for me is to stick to a schedule. Our bodies use a circadian rhythm which tells us when to go to sleep and when to wake up. It’s not as easy as simply going to bed when you’re tired and waking up eight hours later. It can take days or even weeks to figure out a schedule that works for you, but the important thing is to find one and stick to it. When you have finally locked into a sleep pattern, it’s so much easier to fall asleep during the day and get a full seven hours of sleep without waking up wide awake after two or three hours.
Next is darkness. I think that our bodies need to be surrounded by complete darkness for them to shut down and rest. Heavy black out curtains and a sleep mask will help cut down on any light that may leak into the bedroom, allowing you to trick the body into thinking it’s night, making it much easier to go to sleep and stay asleep.
A good set of ear plugs is also key. Even though you’re sleeping, the rest of the world isn’t, and the rest of the world definitely isn’t quiet. Off the shelf ear plugs work well, but if you will be working shift work for a long period of time, consider investing in a pair of molded ear plugs. These ear plugs are much more expensive but they’re literally molded to the shape of your ear canal and are comfortable enough to wear while sleeping without causing any discomfort. The more comfortable you are, the longer you will sleep.
Finally, don’t let other people mess with your sleeping habits. Those who work traditional hours simply don’t understand that you need to sleep certain hours during the day. Let them know that you need to sleep at a certain time and that you’ll be out of commission until you wake up. It’s simply not as easy as going to bed four hours earlier so you can wake up four hours earlier. Messing with your schedule will lead to a tired night at work.