The Best Sleep Schedule for People Who Work Nights
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It's hard enough to get sufficient rest when you're holding down a 9-to-5 job. It's even trickier when you're one of the more than 15 million Americans who clock in as the rest of us zonk out. But research suggests that with a little planning, night-shift workers can get plenty of shut-eye. "Within about a week, permanent night-shift workers can reset their body clock so they feel sleepy at the right time of their day," says Charmane Eastman, PhD, a professor and researcher at the Biological Rhythms Research Lab at Chicago's Rush University Medical Center, who has been studying how to help shift workers for almost three decades. Eastman has shared a sample workday plan below. Adapt it to fit your schedule and body's response.
11 P.M.: Begin Work
Midnight–5 A.M.: Simulate daytime with bright light. Invest in a light-therapy box. It will help reset your body clock and keep you alert.
3 A.M.: If you're a coffee drinker, have your last cup. Caffeine has an average half-life of four to six hours, so it could affect your ability to sleep later.
3–4 A.M.: Eat dinner. Progressively push your meals later each night, until you get to the times suggested for dinner, breakfast and lunch.
7 A.M.: Head home. Here's when you want to avoid bright light at all costs. Put on dark sunglasses with lenses designed to reduce blue light (commonly known as blue blockers).