Tag Archives: caffeine

How to Handle Shiftwork Well

You can learn to handle shiftwork as well as possible.  Here’s a few beginning steps:

  1. Educate your family or roommates about what you’ll need to sleep well.  This includes quiet without interruptions during your sleep time, a dark and cool room, and as regular a schedule as possible.  Sometimes family members are eager to see you and share their news.  When setting a sleep schedule, also schedule a predictable time that you’ll be available to them.
  2. Make your sleep schedule as consistent as possible over the entire week.
  3. If possible, take a short nap during the middle of your shift.  Be cautious to become fully alert before performing your job duties.
  4. Use caffeine strategically.  Caffeine is more effective as a stimulant if you don’t use it much.  During the night shift, take a serving of caffeine at the time when your alertness starts to dip.  The caffeine will take effect in about 20 minutes, and does improve measures of performance.  Be cautious not to take it so close to bedtime that it interferes with falling asleep.
  5. Limit light exposure on the commute home by taking public transit and wearing blue light blocking sunglasses.

With these strategies, shiftwork should be easier.  A special thanks goes out to all those folks who work nights, keeping the rest of us safe.

The Institute of Naturopathic Sleep Medicine focuses on natural care for sleep problems, including shiftwork.  More information is at www.naturalsleepmedicine.net.

Children are Sleep Deprived

Children are sleep deprived just as adults are – 27% of children get less sleep than they need each school night. How much sleep does a child need? Preschoolers (ages 3 to 5) need about 11 to 12 hours, children aged 6 to 12 need 10 to 11 hours, and high school students need 9 to 9.5 hours.

If a child doesn’t get enough sleep they can have mood and behavior problems. For example, they may be irritable, overly emotional, have difficulty cooperating or controlling impulses. Teens especially will take more risks when they are sleep deprived.

School performance is also impaired by sleep deprivation. It becomes more difficult to pay attention, creativity declines, and memory is impaired. Certainly not what we want for our children in school!

Tips to help your children get the sleep they need:
If you suspect your children are not getting the sleep they need to feel good and do well in school there are steps you can take today to improve their sleep.

First, set a consistent wake up time for your child. The time you wake up is the most important for setting your body clock. Next, get them to bed 15 minutes earlier every couple days, until they awaken refreshed on their own. When a preschool or grade school child is getting enough sleep they will be able to awake on their own (this may not be true of teens, more on teen sleep another time).

“Screen time” in front of a computer or television can interfere with easily falling asleep both because of the bright light and because it is mentally stimulating. So establish a bedtime routine that does not involved the TV or computer.

Caffeine stays active in the body for 6 to 8 hours. Ensure your child is not having any caffeine after noon to help sleep well at night.