In a Rut? Get Unstuck! Recovering From Years on Night Shift

Have you ever been stuck? If you have been, you’ll know what I am about to say next. It filters into several areas of your life. Essentially it doesn’t hover, it won’t stay isolated. Without further ado, I’ll introduce our next sleep article! How do you recover from working night shift for an extended period of time?

Not to pick on the ones further along in life, naturally you’re the glue that keeps this country running! But with that said, the longer you’ve worked night shift, the more difficult it can be to adjust your body to sleep at night and then function well during the day.

Adjusting back to day shift

I am going to build off the last sentence in the last section you read. I’m sure you’ve heard something to this effect before: the longer you do something, the harder it is to do something else. So if you worked night shift for a small amount of time, perhaps 3 months or a couple of years, you’ll probably adjust back to day shift just fine.

But if you worked night shift for several years, such as 10, 20, or 30 years, generally speaking, it won’t be as easy going back to a day shift routine. That is unfortunate. For the retiree, does he or she want to continue to sleep during the day when friends are meeting for lunch? Do they want to miss their grandkids' Saturday morning soccer games?

Of course they don’t. Who would? How about the person who just went back to working day shift? Falling asleep at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. and waking up at 7:00 a.m. isn’t ideal for work the next day.

The small increment principle

There’s a principle in life that shouts at us, "Apply me and you’ll have success!" But like all principles, it requires a couple of things.

The first is discipline (I know, I know, that word!) and patience. That discipline is this, small increments of whatever will lead to success. For example, working out leads you to looking and feeling better. Does that happen through exercising a few times? Of course not, otherwise we’d all look and feel incredible.

This principle applies in so many areas of life, such as eating right, investing, and even in relationships. I believe small increments of time will gradually pull you away from the graveyard shift and back to your original circadian rhythm.

Practicing patience and dicipline

Before I get started, this isn’t a 100 percent success rate, although I don’t know that it couldn’t be. But I would recommend it! What if you started shrinking back your bedtime in 20-minute increments each night? Let your body gradually adapt back to its original design.

It will take patience, as I mentioned in the previous section, and I do think the tendency could be to speed up when success occurs and to give up quickly if you aren’t. I would encourage you to be patient knowing your body didn’t change overnight the first time around and most likely it won’t the second time around either.

The second practice is the art of discipline. I know in advance there’ll be nights you won’t feel like doing this and though I know it’s hard, push aside the feelings and remind yourself you’ll win in the end!

Let’s hear from you, whether through comments or questions, and maybe, hopefully, some solutions!

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