Best Sleep Aids for Shift Workers
If you’re anything like us, you crave a few extra minutes of shut-eye before the next shift. But actually falling to sleep and staying asleep is an entirely different beast. We want to help by providing you our must-have bedroom items that ensure the 7-9 hours sleep you need, is always a reality.
The 6 items we recommend all shift workers must have when trying to sleep odd hours (or not so odd hours) are:
- Snuggle-Pedic Supreme Plush Ultra-Luxury Pillow via Amazon.com
- Deconovo Room Darkening Thermal Insulated Blackout Drapes via Amazon.com
- doTERRA Petal Diffuser from Amazon.com
- TOPELEK Reading Light from Amazon.com
- Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock via Amazon.com
- 100% Silk Sleeping Mask by Swanwick Sleep
*Side note…Blue light blocking glasses are also a must, but we have an entire section dedicated to them, which you can check out here.
We previously never cared about the type of pillow we used. Thankfully, neither of ever had an issue with neck or back pain and to this day, still don’t.
However…were we excited to lay our heads down on a cheap pillow every night? No. Did it help us relax after a long, stressful and out of control shift? No.
We recently read something interesting in The Barefoot Investor (which is an incredible, non-intimidating, personal finance book that is highly recommend) that we spend 1/3 of our day sleeping… So why not treat yourself?
Even though the author is all about saving money he recommends buying a pillow you LOVE despite the price tag.
Purchasing a pillow which gets you excited, makes you feel good and actually stands the test of time is not only good for the soul, but also for your wallet.
After reading this, it totally changed our outlook and now we DO care about the type of pillow we use.
So after a thorough pillow search, we finally settled on the Snuggle-Pedic Supreme Plush Ultra-Luxury Pillow (click to see the link via Amazon). And why was that? Let us tell you:
- It’s like sleeping on clouds. We opted for the queen size and it’s by far the biggest most beautiful pillow I’ve ever used. We personally think the king size would be too big.
- This pillow doesn’t go flat. It’s made with gel-infused memory foam which is breathable, not making you feel too hot.
- It’s fully machine washable
- Adaptable. The zipper easily removes the outside covering if you do want to add or remove any foam. (We didn’t need to do this as we loved how it came but have heard others utilizing this feature).
- Hypoallergenic & Dust Mite Resistant.
- 20-Year Warranty with free customizations.
- 120-Night, hassle-free refund.
- Made in California. None of the materials are sourced from outside of the U.S.
Black Out blinds
If I’m completely honest, nothing beats a room with no windows. This was a big deciding factor on where we currently and while it might sound like a prison cell, the door can’t be locked from the outside!
However, we did not have this luxury previously and I’m guessing most of you don’t either.
Blocking out the light is HUGE when trying to sleep during the day. This is the thing that is keeping your sleep hormones awake, stopping them from really working and doing their job.
We think you can do better than using foil and black trash bags to block out the sun. In our experience, the amount of time and money you’ve spent on tape and bad moods, while unraveling the foil and sticking these bags together, make the blinds below worth every penny.
There are two choices we recommend depending on your window set up and current arrangement.
- Drapes – Deconovo Room Darkening Thermal Insulated Blackout Drapes via Amazon.com. For a very reasonable price, you can achieve almost total darkness in your bedroom. These curtains can be set up simply via a single rod. They require zero to very little “handyman” experience.
- Quick fix: Original Blackout Pleated Paper Shade via Amazon.com. We know not everyone wants to (or is allowed due to renting restrictions) drill holes in the wall to hold drapes, therefore, this option would be ideal.
With these pleated shades, you cut the paper size to fit your desired window. They do come with a string to open and close but we wouldn’t be rushing to use this daily. They are paper after all…
A tip when cutting, place them over the entire window rather than just inside. This way there is more chance of blocking out the light.
To make these blinds stick, make sure the area is VERY clean prior to use. Some use alcohol with a damp cloth allowing it dry naturally. While others have used thumbtacks, 3M tape or black gorilla tape to keep them in place. These blinds do come with adhesive tape, but it’s not overly effective in keeping the blinds up long term.
For a reasonable price and a little bit of work, you can achieve total darkness.
If you’re like Dan, you might think oil diffusers smell nice but are just not your thing. However… We urge you to give it a shot.
The difference lavender and vanilla has made to not only our sleeping experience, but other shift workers we have met, is huge.
Lavender, in particular, has been proven to help us relax and aid in falling to sleep quicker, which is something we all crave.
There are two different diffusers we recommend. The first one is actually a model we had set up in the emergency department and the second one is a recommendation from Em’s sister who is (lucky for us) very much into the world of essential oils.
The Doterra brand is unbelievable. They have great customer service and quality products which last. We have used it and still use their doTERRA Lavender Essential Oil and it works great. You can often buy a multi-pack of their oils and save a few dollars if you’re savvy enough to be on the lookout for sales.
This diffuser is a little more expensive than option two but we think the quality is better. It suits our decor and importantly the aroma spreads out to fill more of the room then the VicTsing option. Purchasing a diffuser is not something you buy very often so, in our opinion, spending a little more and making it last is worth it.
However, the VicTsing Wood Cool Mist Humidifier also does the job. It’s super easy to use and you don’t get oil everywhere which we have experienced with other cheaper brands. It also alerts you when the water level is low or is about to shut off. There is also a multi-color function which helps you relax after a shift by simply watching the color change. Sounds silly but works well.
After a shift, most of us need serious winding down time before we sleep. This can look different for everyone, but for those who enjoy reading, you need a decent book light.
Using the big light in your bedroom or even your bedside lamps are okay, but we want to be a little kinder to our stressed out sleep hormones.
When pairing a good reading light with blue light blocking glasses, this is the ultimate shift work sleeping combo. You can check out our glasses recommendations here.
For so long Em balanced her cell phones light on her chest and battled shortness of breath so the darn thing would stay still. But now, she doesn’t have to worry.
We recommend the TOPELEK Reading Light from Amazon.com for a few reasons:
- 9 brightness settings including eye protection technologies
- Attaches well to paperback books without tearing the pages
- Stands on its own
- USB Rechargeable battery with power indicator (comes with USB mini cable)
- Metalhead instead of plastic or silicone
You may be thinking, “why not just use your phone alarm?” And to answer that, we have developed a liking to charging our phones OUTSIDE the bedroom.
This may seem crazy to some, but it’s actually great for two reasons. Firstly, you’re giving your eyes and brain a break from the stimulation of social media, news, texting and secondly, it a powerful relationship booster.
But, like most shift workers, our alarm is a huge part of life and we need something to get us out of bed. So for this, we recommend the Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock via Amazon.com.This thing is incredible. Why?
- The light gradually builds between 20 to 40 minutes prior to your alarm time. This has proven to improve our moods and give users more energy to start their day.
- It has a colored sunrise simulation which gradually wakes you with a natural light lamp. Plus, it has 20 different brightness settings.
- It has an inbuilt speaker that plays a choice of 5 wake-up sounds, or FM radio.
- It has a tap-to-snooze option for an extra 9 minutes of sleep.
- It saves your settings for 8 hours in the event of a power outage. This is Em’s #1 pet hate with alarm clocks and why we are often scared to use them.
- Cool to touch (safe for your kiddos)
So simple yet, so effective.
Over the years we have tried a bunch of different eye mask which claims to “change your world” and they just didn’t.
We won’t make claims like that, but we will simply recommend two eye masks we love, because they worked for us. We wanted to supply two options differing in the number of straps to cater for all.
Firstly, Alaska bear knows how to make eye masks.
Professional, well made and live up the hype of the 1000’s of positive Amazon reviews. We opted for the two strap design because we appreciate the extra support when moving around, particularly during the day when trying to sleep after a night shift.
However, the single strap, which you can see here, is also hugely popular on Amazon. This single strap mask is also really reasonably priced and well worth simply buying it to give it a go.
On the other hand, we also really like the oversized mask from Swanwick Sleep. For those who have been around this website before, yes it’s the same company we recommend you buy blue light blocking glasses from. The size, comfort and ability to block out the light is amazing. Check out the 100% Silk Sleeping Mask by Swanwick.
Some Love For Those Who Snore..
There is a disclaimer here. Neither of us have had issues with snoring in the past. But we’ve had a lot of experience with snoring across other family members and professionally (through nursing). And we know it’s a loud problem!
There are lots of home remedies out there to stop snoring but the most effective tool we have seen is the VitalSleep Anti-Snoring Mouthpiece.
It’s a custom made mouthpiece which changes the position of your jaw to limit snoring. It, of course, is a little more complicated and scientific than that and we encourage you to Learn How VitalSleep Works when clicking on the link.
Below is a picture to give you a better idea. If you struggle with snoring yourself or are impacted by a partners, Vital Sleep is worth checking out