What happens to your body when you transition from a day shift to night shift position? As it turns out, a lot. Sleep is essential and to alter your natural sleep patterns is to disrupt critical schedules and systems. But, as a healthcare professional, you may have to make this transition more than once throughout your career. How can you do it and still maintain healthy schedules? Here are 5 tips to help you transition to a night shift position.

Establish consistency.

t will be hard to shift your sleep cycle to account for your new schedule, but it’s imperative. That means you need to focus on getting enough sleep and being consistent about it, including on your days off. Even though you may want to go back to a more “normal” schedule while you’re not working, it can mess up your ability to get a good night’s sleep when you need it most.

Add healthy diet and exercise.

You’ll be shifting your meal times too, which can be enough to throw your whole body off schedule. But try to avoid fast foods or snacks you might pick up at a convenience store. Instead, focus on healthy foods, regular meal times, and add exercise in to keep your energy up rather than turning to caffeine or chocolate at all hours of the night.

Use light therapy.

Another way to trick your body into accepting its new schedule is to use light therapy. It can be difficult when you’re working around patients who want to be sleeping but keep bright lights on as much as you can. Try to have a place to go where you can recharge with bright lights. If you’re working in a darkened area, your body will become sluggish and tired.

Buy blackout curtains or shades.

Of course, the opposite is true for the time you need to be asleep. That’s why, even for those who work normal business hours, gloomy and rainy days make them tired. When the sun is out, it’s natural to want to be awake and alter. So invest in really good blackout shades and curtains and keep your bedroom dark and cool while you’re trying to sleep. And keep the outside distractions to a minimum.

Ask for help when necessary.

Lastly, you don’t have to do this alone. There are plenty of resources that can help you become more comfortable in your night shift role and altered schedule. If you are experiencing physical symptoms from the schedule change, seek medical attention. The same is true for your emotional help. Exhaustion leads to stress which is neither good for you nor for your patients or employer.

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