Living with a Shift Worker? 8 Tips To Make It Work For All

Picture this. Your mind has been racing all day. You’ve been lying in bed, staring at the ceiling for what seems like hours and you’ve finally just fallen asleep.

Then you hear the dog barking next door. Next, it’s the car alarm on the street. Now you’re wide awake again and getting more agitated by the second.

Yep. Annoying is an understatement, right?

Shift worker jumping

Well, the shift worker in your life faces the same issues x 1000. Well, maybe I’m over exaggerating, but that’s what it seems like for us.

Their rosters and varying schedules push their bodies to work, not only against the chaotic daytime traffic but also against their body clocks, making sleep a tough necessity.

We want to help by sharing 8 tips for those living with a shift worker. We know living with us is NOT easy but we want to help by sharing what’s really important.

1. Chat About the Night Shift Workers Desired Sleep Routine

Map out the perfect sleep schedule for the shift worker. Be honest, work together and be on the same page. You may need to make compromises, but that’s all part of enjoying a happy home.  
The conversation should include:

  • What time would they like to get to sleep and be woken?
  • When would they like to nap when transitioning from days to nights?
  • When do we each get downtime to relax?
  • How are we going to manage the day to day? Kids, chores, bills, food, etc.
black and white. Girl sleeping in bed white sheets

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep is vital for optimal health and wellbeing, improving your quality of life and is also critical for memory processing and consolidation.

Basically, high-quality sleep makes us happier, healthier people and I am sure we all want that.

Particular emphasis though is placed on shift workers due to the constant need for altering and readjusting their finely tuned body clock or circadian rhythm.

Shift workers sleep is no more important than the traditional 9 -5 worker, but it just so happens that those working unusual hours are at higher risk of health complications due to issues surrounding sleep deprivation.

Of course, shift workers can try a number of initiatives to better their own situation, read Secrets to the Perfect Post Night Shift Routine for more information, but you can help too (and the shift worker in your life will love you forever!).

The Golden Rule for Living with a Shift Worker

2. Keep Noise to a Minimum

Use headphones when watching a film, listening to music or viewing videos on YouTube. We know listening to your favorite soundtrack needs to be blaring through the speakers for the full effect, but maybe hold off until the sleeper wakes up.

Try establishing a kids play area away from the sleeping persons bedroom door or even outside. We get a kick from children’s books singalongs, but not in the middle of a deep sleep. 

Remember to use your ‘inside voice’ when on the phone or in person

Avoid doing the noisy housework chores like unpacking the dishwasher or vacuuming. Instead stick to quiet, mind-numbing jobs of ironing and folding clothes if you’re trying to keep busy.

3. Get out of the House Where Possible

If those exhilarating household jobs (note the sarcasm) are causing you to fall asleep, then make a plan and get out of the house. Why not try:

  • Going for a walk and enjoying ‘you time’
  • Catching up with a friend
  • Exercising
  • Run those remaining errands on your to-do-list

4. Modify Your Morning Routine

If you share a room with the shift worker, be aware of the desired sleep routine and do what you can to avoid entering the bedroom. Consider limiting the noise in the bathroom, kitchen, and driveway. Also think about;

  • Having your outfit prepared, lunch made and bags packed the day prior
  • Utilizing a second bathroom (if you have one) or separate space when using the hairdryer, men’s shaver and other noisy appliances. This worked brilliantly for us!
  • Making your smoothie the previous night to prevent needing the blender
  • Turning down the TV and radio to a minimum
  • Avoid slamming doors when leaving a room or the house.
The Golden Rule for Living with a Shift Worker

5. Let the Shift Worker Enjoy the Dark an Hour Before They Sleep

You may notice the shift worker wearing sunglasses inside and closing all the curtains during the day to mimic some kind of cave-like environment.

The reason behind this bizarre behavior is the light from the sun, TV and our devices have shown to poorly affect our body clocks and sleeping hormones.

Read – The Easiest Way to Get Better Sleep as a Shift Worker for more information. We know how ridiculous we look but go just with it.

6. Keep the Environment at the Desired Sleep Temperature

Our bodies naturally cool when we sleep so avoid changing the thermostat, causing them to wake in a hot sweat or shivering due to the cold. The recommended temp is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15 – 19 degrees Celsius).

If you are hanging around the house and need your body temperature adjusted, we suggest a fan or putting on a sweater will go a long way.

Related: 7 Essential Night Shift Tips: Making the Impossible a Reality

7. Change Where the Shift Worker Sleeps During the Day

Do you have a second bedroom or study away from the main living area of the house?

If possible utilize this room as a second bedroom and encourage the shift worker to sleep there. You may need to invest in another bed (we have just purchased this one – Tuft & Needle Queen MattressOpens in a new tab. and it’s the best bed we have ever slept on!) and the costs were far outweighed by the benefits.

If your shift worker is on the night shift schedule, this post titled, What Do I Need for Working Night Shift? 13 Essential Tools will provide some great tips and product suggestions to help them adjust quickly and probably be in a better mood.

8. Be Considerate When Planning Social Events at Home

Nobody wants to stop you from having fun. Do try however to make arrangements elsewhere like a friends place, outside or at a bar/ restaurant instead. This way the shift worker can get high-quality sleep and meet up with you later, in a much better mood.

The Golden Rule for Living with a Shift Worker


Summary: Living with a Shift Worker? 8 Tips To Make It Work For All

Above all else, if this shift-working household could have one wish, it would be uninterrupted sleep!

We understand living with a shift worker presents a different set of challenges, however, following this golden rule will go a long way to happier shift worker and in turn, a happier household. Let us know when you start to reap the benefits and what helped you get the greatest impact. 


Shift Work | Signature | The Other Shift
The Golden Rule for Living with a Shift Worker - The Other Shift

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