Shift workers are finding new ways to get better quality sleep. Indiana University study helps its staff to get the night’s rest they need.

Shift Workers Are Not Getting Enough Quality Sleep

In 2015 Indiana University found that too many of its shift work employees were suffering from a lack of sleep.
In a survey conducted by the university, nearly half of staff lacked the right amount of sleep to function well in their jobs and in the personal lives.
The University responded by with a challenge to promote better sleep. The results were amazing, and the good news is that anyone in shift work can follow the same challenge, and get a better quality night’s sleep as a result.

Creating the Right Sleeping Environment

The Great IU Sleep Challenge asked shift workers to record their sleeping habits for four weeks.

First, shift workers had to try to make their sleep environment as healthy as possible.

This included the 5 following rules:-

  • Darkness –  Using blackout curtains and a sleeping mask if necessary
  • Quietness – Keeping the bedroom quiet and free from disruptive noises.  Drowning out noise with a fan, sound machine or ear plugs.
  • Temperature – Keeping the room cool, yet comfortable.
  • Relaxing – Keeping electronic devices, phones, tablets etc out of the bedroom. The bedroom should be used only for “sleep and sex”!
  • Space – An overcrowded bed is not conducive to a good night’s sleep. Children, pets etc. should be kept out to give you the best sleep. Spouses are  are optional!
    After creating the right space, the challenge then was to take on good habits that help us sleep.

8 Habits For Promoting Better Quality Sleep

The 8 habits were built up over four weeks. Each week with a different focus.

Week 1

  • Try to get at least 7 hours sleep every night
  • Keep the bedroom quiet, dark and comfortable

Week 2

  • Avoid smartphone, computer, TV or other devices 60mins before going to sleep
  • Avoid exposing eyes to bright lights 60 mins before going to sleep

Week 3

  • Eat healthily through the day avoid largest meal before bedtime
  • Engage in 30mins of moderate exercise or 15mins vigorous activity each day

Week 4

  • Avoid Caffeine within 4 hours of sleep
  • Avoid Alcohol 3 hours before sleep

The results were amazing. 58% reported having more energy through the day and a similar number reported an increased ability to deal with stressful situations, both at work and at home.
All in all, there was a significant reduction in those shift workers who felt they weren’t getting enough sleep to function well in their jobs and lives.

How can we apply this?

Although this was a university survey, anyone involved in shift work can benefit from practicing these habits, and can get a better night’s sleep as a result.
Most forms of shift work involve stress and many require high levels of concentration. Insufficient sleep is a serious health issue for all workers, and one that needs the support of individuals, employers and communities to encourage improvement.

What do you do to get a better quality night’s sleep? Can you pass on your tips to other shift workers who might be struggling? Let us know in the comments below and help other shift workers who might be struggling with the important issue of sleep.