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Shift work: Anyone else do it? How do you cope?

by (55)
Updated October 30, 2014 at 3:09 AM
Created September 26, 2010 at 12:29 AM

So.. I work 3 am to 3 pm shifts, six in a row, then eight days off. I obviously have trouble getting enough sleep on my work days. I must be asleep by six fifteen pm in order to get eight hours on my work days. A tough task.

My shift is not likely to change any time soon. In fact, it may get worse before it gets better.

I just read the cortisol chapter in Robb Wolf's book and I must admit, I have some of the symptoms. Specifically... Insomnia when I should be asleep, and the feeling of being over-tired when I am supposed to wake up.

I have tried numerous things, including over-the-counter and prescription sleep aids, coupled with large and ever-increasing amounts of caffeine.

Magnesium and melatonin have felt like a step in the right direction. Everything else works at first and then feels like it makes the problem worse in the long run. Not to mention who knows what long term side effects there might be from consistently using drugs such as diphenhydramine, ambien, or lunesta.

It is a frustrating situation. So..

Anyone else here do shift work? If so, what strategies have you found successful in getting adequate sleep?

Any advice would be much appreciated.

-Tavis

Da4688a27b47c5ffc844e9a009369240
55 · September 29, 2010 at 9:10 PM

Fascinating article! Dr Kripke's thoughts on melatonin and the amount of sleep needed for health completely fly in the face of T.S. Wiley and her theory that we need 9.5 hours per night! Although I must say that a board certified neurologist and sleep specialist carries a bit more authority in my mind than a self described 'medical theorist'. Thanks again

Da4688a27b47c5ffc844e9a009369240
55 · September 29, 2010 at 8:34 PM

Thanks for the link! Yeah I've read that about melatonin too, that long term use of it decreases your body's ability to synthesize it naturally.

Da4688a27b47c5ffc844e9a009369240
55 · September 26, 2010 at 12:25 PM

Thanks, Mike. I appreciate the advice. Cool seems to help me some too. I have blackout curtains coming in the mail, and I run fans to generate white noise. Will try the vitamin D. I definitely notice an effect from the vit D I get from the sun.. IE after a long day out in the sun, I sleep SO well.. :)

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A25c9c1d7d5513d2e49b6592e38ec30e
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25 · September 26, 2010 at 3:24 AM

Tavis, my shift work varies from around 7 hours to 3-4 broken up when I'm at one job (Im on duty for 48 hours and sleep there,) and about 6 when I'm at the other (and get to sleep at home.) I have been making the change to paleo, and just got Robb's book in the mail yesterday. Besides eating at regular intervals, staying hydrated, and getting enough varied exercise, I have been supplementing with Vit D. It seems to help. We also try to keep the bedroom on the cooler side and make it as dark as possible. My girl wears earplugs, but I can't bring myself to close down that much. Hope that helps.

Da4688a27b47c5ffc844e9a009369240
55 · September 26, 2010 at 12:25 PM

Thanks, Mike. I appreciate the advice. Cool seems to help me some too. I have blackout curtains coming in the mail, and I run fans to generate white noise. Will try the vitamin D. I definitely notice an effect from the vit D I get from the sun.. IE after a long day out in the sun, I sleep SO well.. :)

35a9207254408c6907f7082640c7bfaa
1
822 · September 28, 2010 at 4:22 PM

Glad you have decided against sleeping pills. I always try to point out this free ebook: The Dark Side of Sleeping Pills. The conclusions should be familiar to most paleo folks: sleeping pills are mainly about making pharmaceutical companies money, not about making people healthier. Doctors get their opinions mainly from big pharma-sponsored education, etc...

Incidentally Kripke does not generally recommend chronic melatonin supplementation either. Would be interesting to see more studies on it!

Da4688a27b47c5ffc844e9a009369240
55 · September 29, 2010 at 8:34 PM

Thanks for the link! Yeah I've read that about melatonin too, that long term use of it decreases your body's ability to synthesize it naturally.

Da4688a27b47c5ffc844e9a009369240
55 · September 29, 2010 at 9:10 PM

Fascinating article! Dr Kripke's thoughts on melatonin and the amount of sleep needed for health completely fly in the face of T.S. Wiley and her theory that we need 9.5 hours per night! Although I must say that a board certified neurologist and sleep specialist carries a bit more authority in my mind than a self described 'medical theorist'. Thanks again

1fa43d122539c03df8cad53761ff25af
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-2 · October 18, 2010 at 2:24 AM

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