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What can I do as an employee?

Managing your sleep

In order to maximise your own workplace safety and productivity, you need to maximise and prioritise sleep.

If you are a night shift worker, or you work varied or unusual hours, you may benefit from the following additional advice:

Plan ahead

perhaps consider moving your sleep to later and scheduling a late afternoon nap before your first night in a night shift sequence. Sleep-in after an evening shift. Try and get more sleep than normal in the days before a particularly difficult work schedule.

Use good sleep hygiene practices

particularly when sleeping in the day. Sleep in a cool, dark comfortable room. Use an eye-mask and ear-plugs and switch off the telephone when sleeping. Tell people not to disturb you. See the Sleep Health Foundation’s Good Sleep Habits fact sheet for more information.

Sleep as soon as possible

the main problem for night shift workers is their inability to sleep during the day. Shift workers should get home and sleep as soon as possible after the shift ends – avoid watching TV or answering email. If you are working consecutive night shifts, and you cannot sleep for long enough after the shift, make sure you schedule a nap in the afternoon before returning to the night shift. Even a short nap will help.

Melatonin

melatonin can be useful in helping shift workers to sleep during the day. It is available on prescription so please consult your physician before using melatonin. See the Sleep Health Foundation’s Melatonin fact sheet for more information.

Light up your workplace

light is a useful sleepiness countermeasure. Ensure that your workplace is well-lit, ideally with high intensity blue-enriched white light – more information is available in the Lighting Solutions section.

Caffeine

caffeine can be helpful for maintaining alertness on-the-job, but it should be used little and often (one tea, weak coffee or soda every 1-2 hours max) and stopped at least 5 hours before your planned sleep time.

Get tested

if you struggle with sleep or high levels of sleepiness, we recommend that you get screened for clinical sleep disorders. It will be hard to manage sleep well if there is an underling sleep problem. More information is available in the Screening for Sleep Disorders section.