How Your New Job Can Affect Your Sleep

How Does Shift Work Affect Sleep?

Along with other life-changing events, such as getting married or moving to a new home, starting a new job probably will cause you some stress. Keep in mind, though, that not all stress is bad for you. Any major life change, positive or negative, can induce anxiety, indicating that the body is calling on its natural defense mechanisms to respond. Sometimes your mind and body don't know how to react to the unknown, so the stress reaction is ultimately for your protection. Feeling anxiety when beginning a new job is completely normal. The uncertainty and excitement about what to expect with your new job, even if it's positive, can keep you up at night, your mind racing. Something new and unfamiliar can produce uncertainty, and anything you're not comfortable with, for example, public speaking, can leave you imagining various scary scenarios. You may have years of experience as a public speaker, but any time you face a new venue, a new subject, anything unknown, you're likely to be nervous. So, how does shift work affect sleep? Let's find out.

What about your new job could cause you anxiety?

Stress over meeting new staff members is common; you may be unsure about how you'll get along with them or with a new supervisor. Perhaps you'll be supervising others now, and your job tasks may differ from what you were used to. To add to the stress, you might also face a drastic change in your working hours. It's critical to take care of yourself by ensuring you still get enough sleep, despite any disruptions in your routine. You'll probably need to adjust your body clock to deal with the changes.

How to Adjust to a Time Change or Increase/Decrease in Hours

  • Go slowly and give your body time to adjust. It could take several days or weeks for your internal clock to reset. Try to start the new routine at least a week before your first day on the job.
  • Don't change your sleep schedule drastically. Make gradual changes, by 15-minute increments when going to sleep earlier or later.
  • Make your environment conducive to sleep. It might be hard to sleep during the day if you're used to the darkness of night. Sleep experts suggest using blackout curtains to darken your room. On the other hand, you may need to depend on artificial light to mimic the sunrise if you're not used to waking up while it's still dark outside.

Along with changing your sleep schedule, you can implement changes that can help anyone sleep better.

  1. Try restful breathing techniques to relax your body.
  2. Practice meditation for mind relaxation.
  3. Exercise daily, but not too vigorously right before bed. Yoga and stretching at bedtime will help with relaxation.
  4. Write before you go to bed or when you wake up. Name your fears about your new job or just free write about anything.
  5. Avoid caffeine and sugar near bedtime. It's a good idea to limit all stimulants any time during the day (soda, coffee, nicotine, etc.).
  6. Turn off electronic devices before bed. Reading a book or listening to calm music can help you fall asleep faster. But don't get caught up checking email or posting on Facebook. The stimulation, and what's referred to as "blue light" emitted from your devices, can interfere with the quality of your sleep.
  7. Take a short nap during the day if your schedule makes you tired. Be mindful of your new routine and try not to nap too long or too close to bedtime.
Major life changes, both positive and negative, affect everyone at some point. If you recognize the impact these changes have on both your mind and your body, you can take healthy steps to minimize your anxiety and sleep better permanently.

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