Ask SleepBetter: Too Many Worries

Have you wondered about something related to sleep, but just can’t find the answer? Lots of people do, and that’s why we created Ask SleepBetter. You can ask your own question on the SleepBetter Facebook Page, or by using our Ask SleepBetter contact form. We will try to answer as many questions as possible, but we are not able to answer queries about physical issues or medicinal issues. Those should be addressed face-to-face with a physician.

Today’s question is about noise and too many thoughts:

“Just started a new job, getting married, trying to have a child, and find a house.. needless to say stress level is very high.  My job of the past 6 months involves a overnight of 12 am to 8 am shift.. trying to sleep at least 7 to 8 hours has become a tough mission.. i try to break it up in two parts .. but a lot of days i come home still wired and then i start thinking about my concerns and before you know it i only get 3 to 4hours sleep..please help”
-Leo (via email)

It certainly does sound like you have a lot going on.

Unfortunately, it sounds like your biggest problem is working the overnight shift.  It’s not the natural way of sleeping, but obviously you can’t do anything about the shift you need to work.  Here are a list of tips for sleeping better while working the “third shift”:

  • Make your bedroom as dark as possible.  Purchase light-blocking curtains or find some other way to block out the daylight.
  • Purchase a white noise machine.  It’s tough to expect the outside world to be quiet when most people are awake.  A white noise machine will provide soothing sounds that can block out noises like lawn mowers and cars.  If the white noise machine doesn’t work, ear plugs may be your best friend.
  • Learn meditation techniques.  It sounds like your issue, aside from the schedule you must keep, is settling your brain.  Practice forcing your brain to go to one of your favorite places, such as the beach or the mountains, and think about that rather than all of the things going on in your life.
  • Keep a journal.  Writing down your concerns before going to bed can help “offload” them from your brain, making it easier to settle in and get some sleep.
  • Avoid things that can get in the way of sleep.  Obviously, the first thing to think about is caffeine.  Don’t drink coffee or sodas within a few hours of your bedtime.  Also, turn off the TV at least a half hour before it’s time for you to sleep.  Instead, try reading a calming book or magazine (the paper kind) for a little while before you close your eyes.
  • Try to keep the same schedule.  Even if your sleep schedule is the complete opposite of most people, find a schedule and stick to it, even on your days off.  Flipping your schedule around can confuse your body.

Hopefully by following this advice, you’ll find that you’re getting closer to the amount of sleep that you need.