For anyone who’s ever had to work the night shift, either consistently or on a rotational basis, you know how hard it is to adjust your schedule. Finding sleep during the day on night shift just isn’t natural, thanks to factors like your body’s innate circadian rhythm fighting you the whole way. Still, it’s important to get quality sleep no matter what time of the day that is. So for all the night shift workers out there, we’ve compiled seven of our favorite methods to help you get better sleep during the day.
Why Sleep Matters (Especially After Working the Night Shift)
Although it may seem like the older you get the less sleep you need, that’s not exactly true. While you probably won’t need as much sleep as when you were a kid, even healthy adults need an average of seven to nine hours of sleep every night. And of course, the same rule applies to adults who have to sleep during the day. Sleep is the time in which our bodies get to work absorbing information from the previous day, recharging, and healing.
No matter your profession, if your job requires you to sleep during the day, then that’s what you have to do. Which can be problematic for your sleep quality and even your health, since humans are biologically wired to sleep during the night thanks to something called the circadian rhythm. So when it comes to altering your sleep schedule, it’s more important than ever to focus on developing healthy sleep habits.
Your Circadian Rhythm vs. Your Homeostatic Sleep Drive
Your circadian rhythm and your homeostatic sleep drive are the two main systems that control and regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Circadian rhythms are impacted by things such as changes to our environments and light exposure. Evolutionarily, circadian rhythms use environmental cues to tell our bodies when to alter functions such as body temperature, hormone levels, and mental clarity.
Your homeostatic sleep drive, on the other hand, is the desire to sleep, which builds like a pressure in your body the longer you’re awake, and lowers while you sleep. Because your homeostatic sleep drive and your circadian rhythm will naturally fight the change in your sleep schedule, it is imperative that you ease into your sleep shift as much as you can. By gradually shifting your sleeping and waking hours, you’re giving your body a better chance to adjust to atypical hours.
Regulating Your Circadian Rhythm While Working the Night Shift
The trick to regulating your circadian rhythm so you can sleep during the day on night shift is all about controlling light exposure, your caffeine levels, and increasing the amount of melatonin in your body. While there are a number of factors that can affect your circadian rhythm, most can’t be helped when you have to work the night shift. Which is why we’ll be focusing on the factors that you can change. All of which we’ll dig further into below.
So without further ado, here are our top seven ways to get better sleep during the day on the night shift.
1.Ease into Your Sleep Shift
The easiest and most effective way to transition into sleeping during the day on night shift is to start adjusting your sleep schedule a few days before your first shift. And the best way to do that is by taking your normal bed and waking time and adding on an hour or two every day. So if you usually sleep from 11 PM to 6 AM, try going to bed at 1 AM and getting up at 8 AM the first day then sleep from 3 AM to 10 AM the next day, and so on.
By gradually shifting your sleep schedule, rather than forcing it all in one go, you can better try to adjust your homeostatic sleep drive. Because syncing with your homeostatic sleep drive will make it easier for your natural circadian rhythm to adapt to your new hours as well. While working at night and sleeping during the day will probably still feel pretty weird, a slow shift will allow your mind and body to better adjust.
It can take up to seven or even ten days for your body to adapt to a new sleep schedule, depending on your circadian rhythm and homeostatic sleep drive. If it’s your first time sleep shifting and you don’t know how your body will react, don’t be afraid to give yourself a few extra days to make the transition to sleeping during the day on night shift.
2. Keep to a Strict Sleep Schedule
In addition to slowly moving your sleep schedule, once you’ve reached your target sleep time it’s crucial that you stick to it – especially if your night shift occurs for an extended period of time. Because your body will naturally want to fight the change to your circadian rhythm, keeping to a strict sleep schedule can help you convince your mind and body that it’s time to go to bed even if it’s light outside.
A stricter sleep schedule will also help reconfigure your homeostatic sleep drive while working the night shift, which in turn can make the change in your circadian rhythm a little easier since the two work hand in hand.
3. Trick Your Brain By Controlling the Light
Since our circadian rhythms are controlled by light, it stands to reason that you will sleep better during the day on night shift if you can avoid as much light as possible. So keep a pair of sunglasses in your car and go straight to your bedroom when you get home. From there, you just have to avoid the temptation to turn on your TV or glance at your phone.
Blue light is one of the largest culprits behind poor sleep and sleepless nights. So as hard as it may be, it’s important to practice self-restraint when it comes to lying in bed and answering any texts from friends or browsing your phone before you fall asleep during the day.
If you can ignore your phone, once you make it home your most valuable weapons against the light will be your blackout curtains and eye mask. Both of them can suppress and even completely block out the light coming in your bedroom windows. While some people find they can fall asleep with the light on without issue, most people don’t function that way – and in fact, may even benefit from wearing an eye mask to sleep during the night.
4. Set Boundaries with Friends and Family
It might feel a little weird at first, but it’s important to let your friends and family know your sleep schedule so they don’t text, call, or otherwise disturb you while you’re trying to sleep during the day after working the night shift. It may also be a good idea to let them know ahead of time that you also won’t be replying to any texts or calls you received on your night shift until after you wake up. This way you won’t feel bad for avoiding your phone and ignoring anyone after your shift.
Depending on your situation, this will also help keep any friends, family, or roommates from banging on your door, letting themselves in while you sleep, or worst of all, trying to vacuum or do the dishes while you struggle to tune them out. Setting and adhering to boundaries, especially when it comes to your much-needed sleep, is an important part of any relationship.
5. CBD with Melatonin Can Help Reset Your Circadian Rhythm
Melatonin is the secret VIP weapon when it comes to adjusting your schedule so you can sleep during the day on night shift. As a hormone that helps your mind and body fall asleep, melatonin is what your body’s natural circadian rhythm automatically produces as the sun goes down. And while this is great for those with a normal sleep schedule, melatonin production doesn’t function the same for those who have to sleep during the day.
Enter melatonin supplements, which help to tell your mind and body that it is time for sleep. And although regular melatonin supplements work great, taking CBD with melatonin adds an extra boost of calm and relaxation to your system. Partnered with chamomile flower, valerian root, and a host of other relaxing herbs, our CBD PM with melatonin helps your body to shut down after work, no matter the time of day.
Just like your circadian rhythm takes operational cues from your environment, so too does it factor in your melatonin levels in order to function properly.
6. Keep an Eye on Your Caffeine Intake
As anyone who has worked a 12-hour shift (or even an eight-hour shift) will tell you: caffeine is often the key to getting through the workday. But if you struggle to sleep during the day, you’ll need to be more strict about timing your last cup of coffee. Although caffeine is great for getting you going and keeping you awake, you want to make sure you don’t drink too much of it or drink it too late into your work day (or night).
While everyone’s metabolism is different, the average half-life of caffeine in healthy adults is around five hours. Which means you’ll want to have your last cup of coffee or energy drink at least six hours before you plan to sleep, just in case. As caffeine usually takes about 30 minutes to an hour to kick in, if you’re extra sensitive to the effects of caffeine you may want to try to drink less during your shift or cut yourself off sooner.
7. Go to Sleep as Soon as You Get Home
Last but certainly not least, one of the best things you can do to train your body to sleep during the day on night shift is to go to bed as soon as you get home. This will not only help you avoid bright light that will trigger your brain to stay awake, but it can also help you keep your sleep schedule on track. And when your homeostatic sleep drive is on track, your circadian rhythm will soon follow.
For more information on how to sleep during the day on night shift, or for additional guidance on how CBD can help increase your quality of sleep, check out our frequently updated blog. Looking to stay up to date on the latest supplement news and cbdMD’s upcoming special offers? Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, or chat with someone live today!