SHIFT WORKERS + DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME DON’T MIX

Losing an hour of sleep due to daylight saving time can be hard on us all, but most challenging for 25% of U.S. workers with nontraditional work hours, including police officers, firefighters, nurses, pilots, restaurant servers, early-morning reporters and truck drivers. See tips below to help you take inventory of your personal sleep habits.

When the clocks spring ahead, personal performance suffers. In a recent Omnibus survey conducted by Sleep Number that polled third-shift workers from across the country, results revealed that

  • 75% of third-shift workers report that they get less than seven hours of sleep on weekdays (seven hours per night is recommended for best performance results)
  • Daytime workers report having a harder time adjusting to the daylight saving time shift, while third-shift workers are less likely to notice any change
  • 38% of third-shift workers say they don’t keep their workday sleep routine on their days off
  • Second- and third-shift workers are more likely to say that good sleep is not that important to how they function at work
  • No matter their shift, all workers who were surveyed say they get more sleep on weekends

Additionally, local morning news crews were polled on these same questions and the study found that

  • Early-morning news crews overwhelmingly place a higher importance on their sleep than do third-shift workers from other industries
  • The majority of morning media crews said they stick to a sleep routine just five to six days of the week, shifting to a different schedule on their days off
  • The weekend the clocks spring ahead can wreak havoc with morning news crews, with 42% saying it takes their bodies more than two days to adjust
  • In contrast to other third-shift workers, morning news crews said that quality sleep is extremely important to how they function at work
  • Naps seemed to be pretty consistent with morning-media workers, with a whopping 55% saying they nap twice per week or more

Why Does Sleep Matter?

Springing ahead is the self-care reminder we need for waking up to the importance of regular sleep. Besides setting the clocks forward (losing that precious hour of Zzzs), it’s also a great time to take inventory of your personal sleep habits.

While healthy eating habits and regular exercise are often the primary focus when it comes to performance – whether professionally or athletically, having a consistent sleep schedule is just as important. Our bodies thrive on regular sleep rhythms. When these rhythms are disrupted – even for just one night – reaction times are slowed, focus and memory are impaired, and immune systems can weaken due to insufficient time to rest and repair cells from the day’s exertion.

In fact, several studies have shown that the number of car accidents tends to spike the Monday following the loss of just one hour of sleep after the clocks spring ahead. Long-term disruption of a sleep routine has been associated with heightened risk of

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes and metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Depression and mood disorders
  • Serious gastrointestinal issues
  • Problems with fertility and pregnancy
  • Cancer

Sleep Tips for Shift Workers

To get the best physiological performance results from your sleep, Sleep Number offers these tips to those who work a third-shift schedule:

  • Consistently carve out a 7 to 9-hour block of time to sleep during the day
  • Keep the same sleep/wake/routine schedule 7 days per week – even on days off! This includes
    • Meals – helps anchor body energy levels and alertness
    • Medications – helps regulate bodily functions and rhythms
    • Exercise – improves sleep quality and efficiency
  • Create dusk several hours before “bedtime” with dark sunglasses or blue-blocking glasses
  • Darken the house with shades, blinds, window dressings
  • Dim the lights and avoid harsh fluorescent bulbs in favor of a yellow/orange glow
  • Minimize all screen exposure (TV, computers, phones, tablets) one hour before bedtime
  • Darken the bedroom by wearing an eye mask if any light enters the bedroom
  • Maintain “nighttime” temperatures by cooling the bedroom to 65 degrees
  • Block daytime noises with sound machines or earplugs
  • Create sunrise upon waking with exposure to bright light to reset the internal clock
  • Avoid caffeine after midnight; it will interfere with morning sleep
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Involve family and friends; make sure they understand your schedule
  • Nap when you can: during a shift, 20-minute power naps are very beneficial

 

Need more convincing that sleep is important? Read this post that explains what happens to your body when you don’t sleep.