Whether you work nights at home or elsewhere, graveyard shifts can mess up many different aspects of your health. Long-term shift work or working at night has long been connected with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and fertility problems, among others. Psychologically, it can cause insomnia, depression, anxiety, and other mental and mood disorders.
With all that said, proper coping mechanisms are necessary to prevent the negative effects of working nights. Starting with making your home more conducive to good daytime sleep (and nighttime productivity, if you work at home) is the best first step. Here are some excellent tips on how to do that:
1. Reduce your blue light exposure
A Harvard study has shown that exposure to blue light suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the body’s sleep schedule. The same study suggests that people who work the night shift, especially those who use electronic devices, should consider wearing glasses that block blue light or using apps that filter the blue/green wavelength on their screens at night.
If you work outside at night, it is recommended to get high-quality outdoor LED wall packs that produce less blue light (and are also energy-efficient.)
2. Buy blackout curtains
Falling asleep with the sun’s rays peeking through your curtains is hard enough, more so is actually staying asleep throughout the day.
Blackout curtains are an easy solution to this common problem that shift workers have. These curtains can block out any and all types of light from entering a room, including sunlight and car headlights, allowing for more restful sleep. In addition, blackout curtains provide extra insulation to the room helping it stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter, which also helps promote better sleep.
3. Get the right night light
If you turn in when it’s still dark out and night light to help you sleep, red light is the best way to go because it doesn’t act as a stimulant, unlike blue light. It is the best wavelength of light to help you fall and stay asleep, which is extremely helpful if you have trouble getting enough sleep in the daytime.
4. Soundproof your bedroom
Noise is often unavoidable if you live with other people who don’t share the same working schedule as you. You can ask them to stay as quiet as possible when you’re asleep, but it may be difficult for them to stay perfectly quiet when so many household activities produce noise.
The solution? Soundproof your bedroom. Here are several ways you can do so:
Install soundproofing art. You don’t have to make your bedroom look like a recording studio to soundproof it. There are lots of decor pieces that double as soundproofing materials which will make your bedroom look nicer while soundproofing it.
Push heavy furniture against the wall. A bookcase or a large wardrobe against the wall will help block sound coming into and out of the room.
Seal gaps. Ensure that there are no gaps around your bedroom door and windows for sound to pass through.
Aside from helping you get better sleep, soundproofing your bedroom will also make it easier to focus on work if you work nights at home.
5. Reduce clutter
Clutter can increase your stress levels and make it more difficult to rest when you get home from work. That said, decrease the amount of clutter in your home to make it more conducive for fitful rest after a night shift.
Keep stuff out of sight as much as possible and throw away any unnecessary items that only serve to take up space. At the very least, store clutter where you can’t see them until you can sort them out later on.
6. Invest in great sheets and pillows
The quality of your linens and pillows has a direct effect on the quality of sleep you get. And since you need the best sleep to help your body cope with working nights, investing in high-quality sheets and pillows is always a great idea.
7. Keep your bed clean
Maintaining a clean and tidy bed will help you avoid being woken up by itchiness, rashes, or some other annoying effect that a dirty, crumby bed can cause. Thus, make it a habit to wash your beddings at least once a week and deep-clean your mattress bi-annually.
Working nights can be tough on your body and mind. That said, make your home the best place to rest so you can reduce the effects of the night shift on your body, as well as make you more awake and productive when you wake up.