For night shift workers or those of you with rotating shifts, you know that getting enough sleep is a constant struggle. Because of the body’s natural circadian rhythms, it can be difficult to catch-up on rest during the day. This makes it difficult and even dangerous to go back to work in the evening. These tips can help you establish routines so that you will feel rested without resorting to cup after cup of coffee.

Schedule Off-Days

For those of you switching from days to nights, try your best to schedule off-days whenever you can. You can help your body adjust naturally if you can use a day for sleeping-in or taking an early evening nap. This is especially important for shift workers because you never have the chance to fully adjust to one schedule, so make sure that you have time to relax between shifts.

Limit Caffeine

When 3 a.m. rolls around it’s very tempting to reach for an energy drink or cup of coffee, but that dose of caffeine could prevent you from getting adequate sleep when your shift is over. Because caffeine can stay in your system for up to 12 hours, it’s best if you drink some at the beginning of your night shift to help you wake up. If you’re having trouble staying awake near the end of your shift (or even worse, while you’re driving home afterwords), experts suggest doing something active. A short walk can help warm up your body, which will help you stay awake and alert even in the early hours of the day.

Eat Healthy

Healthy eating habits are very important to night-shift workers because added sugar could contribute to late-night energy crashes. Try to avoid candies and sweets and instead opt for proteins and nutrient-rich vegetables. For instance, carrots and peanut butter would be a better snack option than chips or cookies when you’re looking for a midnight snack.

Use Blackout Curtains

Once you have returned home after your shift, it’s important that you create a dark, quiet atmosphere for your bedroom. Because noises and bright lights from the daytime will signal to your body that it’s time to be awake, you’ll need to minimize those distractions in order to get truly restful sleep. Blackout curtains are a must to block daylight and help you establish a daytime sleep schedule. You should also avoid electronics and turn your devices on “do not disturb” so that you can sleep without interruption. In fact, these are good sleep tips that anyone can use!

Correct Mattress Type

When you have an unpredictable sleep schedule due to shift work, every minute of sleep counts. If you spend time tossing and turning because you can’t get comfortable or you are jolted awake when your partner gets out of bed in the morning, a new mattress can be the perfect solution. Plus a foam or innerspring mattress with the correct comfort level for your unique needs will prevent pressure from building up on your back and joints. You’ll find it’s much easier to fall asleep and stay asleep if you aren’t experiencing pain on top of everything else!

Night shift workers and people with rotating shifts have a significantly higher risk of experiencing some type of sleep disorder. This could present as insomnia, sleep apnea, or sleep deprivation. If you or a family member is experiencing any of those problems, it’s always a good idea to consult a doctor. They will have personalized techniques to combat sleep disorders and may be able to prescribe medication to help. However, creating a steady bedtime routine is a good place to start and will help night shift workers achieve a healthier sleep schedule and lifestyle!