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Tips for working active nights as a Support Worker

Posted about 2 years ago by Alison Rodriguez

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​Whether you are an early riser or a night owl, active nights can prove challenging for the body and mind, but there are strategies that you can implement to help you cope better.

We have compiled some tips to help you manage working into the late and early hours of the day as a Support Worker in Australia.

1. Manage your sleep patterns…

  • Avoid activities which make you feel more alert, such as computer work

  • Don’t delay getting to bed - the longer you delay, the more awake you feel

  • Dedicate the usual 8 hours to sleep after an active night

  • Have a light meal before retiring, hunger pangs or thirst will wake you up

  • Avoid alcohol before sleeping. Alcohol may relax you in the short term, but it also diminishes sleep quality and disturbs the deep stages of sleep, leaving you feeling unrefreshed

  • Do not smoke before bed. Nicotine is a stimulant

  • Ensure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and a comfortable temperature

  • Let your family and friends know your roster hours so that they do not disturb you

2. Control light exposure…

  • During active nights, you can “trick” your body into an alert state with exposure to bright light, and promote sleep by limiting light exposure at the end of your shift

  • Wear sunglasses on your journey home to suppress light exposure

  • Use blackout blinds or a sleep mask to block our daylight in your bedroom

  • Avoid watching TV before going to bed

3. Watch your diet…

  • Plan your meals ahead to stay alert during night shift hours, and more relaxed when you need to sleep

  • Take healthy snacks to work to stay alert without gaining weight, such as fruit and vegetables

  • Stick to a similar eating pattern, the same as you would follow when not working nights

  • Eat frequent, light meals and snack to avoid drowsiness associated with heavy meals

  • Choose easily digested foods, such as bread, rice, pasta, salad, milk products, fruit and vegetables

  • Avoid foods difficult to digest, such as fried, spicy and processed meals

  • Avoid sugar, although sugar provides short-term energy boosts, it is quickly followed by an energy dip

  • Stay hydrated whilst working, but do not overload the bladder before bed

4. Use caffeine to your advantage…

  • Used as a stimulant, small regular doses of caffeine can enhance wakefulness and help you perform better

  • Cease caffeine 6 hours before bedtime to ensure the stimulant does not affect your deep sleep patterns

Everyone is different, so finding the right combination of techniques which are best suited to you may take some trial and error. By applying some of the above suggestions you will be well on your way to coping with night work as well as ensuring you get the right amount of sleep to function properly.