Get More Sleep: 3 Words That Will Make You Want To Roll Your Eyes!

Stress Management And Therapy

In your search to find the missing link between overcoming insomnia, sleep-deprivation and shift work, have you ever researched websites or purchased a book about sleep?

Let me guess.  Some of the content of the book read like this.

“Get more sleep” they say.

“Go to bed at the same time every night” they say.

“Only go to bed when you’re feeling tired” they say.

Yeah right!

Every time I read this I just want to roll my eyes because that’s all very nice and dandy, but it’s just not realistic when you work irregular hours 24/7.

It’s also really hard when we cannot sleep so we lie awake worrying about the fact that we cannot sleep (which compounds the problem even more by adding psychological stress) which ends up making us even more tense and highly strung!

Fabulous!  Sleep-deprived AND stressed – just what we want as a shift worker.

However I have to admit, there is one sleep-inducing technique that has definitely helped to increase the QUALITY of my sleep over the years (because we can forget about quantity when we work peculiar hours) and that’s the following:

It’s about being physically fit for sleep – because in order to sleep well, we must release some of the tension which is going to prevent us from falling into that wonderful place called “slumber”.

Our bodies are designed to move but if we lead a sedentary life, sitting at a desk for most of the day or spending hours in the car, our natural body movements become restricted which has negative consequences on our well-being.

A sedentary lifestyle can adversely affect our posture and we often find ourselves complaining about aching necks and stiff backs.  Movement is also fantastic for relieving stress – a common complaint amongst shift workers from all around the world.

Of course that being said, if the mere thought of exercise makes you shudder, it’s worth remembering that we can do so gently which does not require you to push your body to its physical limits.  So don’t worry – you DO NOT have to spend an hour in the gym pumping weights or doing a spin class!

I know – “thank goodness for that!”

So if you’re someone who suffers from a build-up of tension in your neck, you can benefit enormously by doing some gentle stretches before going to bed.  Or, you can always incorporate exercise into your daily routine by using the stairs at work instead of the elevator.

Essentially exercise does not have to be vigorous to be beneficial.

So start making the change to get moving more often.  I know it can be really hard to motivate oneself to get off the couch when you feel so tired and exhausted all of the time, but if you just do a little bit more than you did yesterday you will begin to reap the benefits associated with incorporating movement and sleep into your shift working lifestyle.

Fatigue Management – The Key To Shift Worker Happiness.

The key to shift worker happiness is undeniably fatigue management because finding a way to reduce your fatigue when you work irregular hours can be a massive daily upheaval.

In fact the quest for many shift workers is to find the Magical Golden Ticket. That is, to find that one ‘Magic Pill’ that is going to help end their feelings of chronic fatigue, tiredness and exhaustion.

Something that you could personally relate to I’m sure.

But the bad news is there is no such thing as a ‘Magic Pill’. It simply does not exist.

Which is a bit of a shame really because it would be great to wake up bursting with energy, despite having worked an early shift or night shift the day before.

Of course there is a cheap and easy fatigue management strategy that many shift workers overlook and it’s simply called exercise. Yes, that’s right – the art of moving your body.

Our bodies are designed to move. They are not designed to sit on a chair all day or step onto an escalator to get to a higher floor. We are designed to step, run, climb, stretch or even jump over things.

But the harsh reality is that technology has made us lazy. Incredibly lazy.

Now if the word exercise sends you into a bit of panic, don’t fear. Because exercise doesn’t mean that you have to sign up to join a gym or run 50 laps around an oval (thank goodness).

It’s about moving your body in a way that you enjoy, and fitting it into your day so that you can then make it a part of your life. And that really is the key – a part of your life. There’s no point going on a massive health kick and doing lots of exercise for a limited time, that’s not how it works. It’s about making exercise a part of your life – forever!

Despite what you may think, you simply cannot afford not to exercise when you work shift work.

And it’s really easy to begin by just taking a look at your running shoes. (Don’t worry – you don’t actually have to ‘run’ in them). If you take them for a 15-20 minute walk every second day this will go along way into helping to restore and rejuvenate your energy depleted shift worker body.

So start using exercise as your fatigue management strategy. It’s going to help to improve your sleep, increase your energy levels, reduce muscle tension and also alleviate the effects of stress – a condition experienced by many shift workers around the world.

Overcoming Chronic Fatigue and Tiredness – Are You Addicted To Tea And Coffee?

No doubt if you are working shift work, you have probably drunk copious amounts of tea and coffee at some point in time to help keep you awake. But are these cups of tea and coffee really helping you to overcome chronic fatigue and tiredness, or are they just masking the problem?

You see when you grab that cup of tea or coffee to help perk you up, it’s only fooling the body into thinking its not tired.

It does not actually cure your tiredness.

And what’s concerning is that this daily caffeine fix not only becomes a habit, it eventually leads to an addiction. In fact Scientists consider caffeine as one of the most powerful and addictive drugs because it’s very easy to build up a tolerance to it.

And what they mean by this is that you may initially drink two cups of coffee a day to get your caffeine fix (certainly easy for a shift worker to do) – but it will probably take three cups a day to get the same ‘hit’ next week.

Plus if you are somebody that has …

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feels nervous
  • Irritable
  • Moody
  • Or even a bit depressed – chances are you may be suffering from an excess of caffeine.

So, here comes the million dollar question – are you a caffeine addict?

Now if you can’t get by without your regular cuppa, then I hate to say it but you are probably addicted.

Now what is also not good about this scenario is that drinking tea or coffee on a regular basis has an effect on every major system in your body. The nervous system suffers the most, as caffeine is a stimulant that affects you mentally and physically. There is also evidence that caffeine can damage your digestive system, making you prone to stomach ulcers.

Now I’m not suggesting that you go ‘Cold Turkey’ and give up your tea and coffee completely. Just be sensible.

Having more than 2 cups a day is not going to be good for your health long term. So instead try some healthy alternatives like herbal teas – that way you are still enjoying the social experience of having your hot drink. They are also a much more refreshing drink, which is going to help with your chronic fatigue and tiredness.

Now just a word of warning. Like with any addiction, cutting down on caffeine is going to bring on withdrawal symptoms, including headaches, fatigue, stiffness, and even some flu-like symptoms as your body cries out for more caffeine.

Hang in there, these symptoms will pass in two or three days and you’ll soon be jumping out of your skin with real energy – instead of the ‘fake pick me up’ that caffeine is renowned for!