The Effect Working Various Shifts Has on Sleep Patterns
Who would have thought that working various shifts would have an effect on sleep patterns? That's right, I definitely wouldn't have. But a recent study by the Journal of Biological Rhythms says it does. The study surveyed 24 hospital workers in Chicago on their work hours, sleep quality and sleep schedules for four weeks. It was found that shift workers generally had lower quality of sleep and more restless nights, compared to the control group. I can see why, it is pretty hard to settle down to sleep when you know you're going to be woken up in a few hours to go to work again. The results also showed that "plant-nappers" — people who take brief naps between their shifts — tend to be nearly as well-rested as those with regular daytime sleeping habits.
I think the most important thing to take from this research is that there is no perfect way to switch shifts. You simply have to make the best of the situation, and try to make any shift changes as easy on your body as you can. If possible, try sleeping in a dark room during the day, and shutting off all your electronics before bed. It may not be the most natural sleep schedule that you're used to, but it's the only way that you'll adjust and feel rested upon waking.