Healthy Living Today: Shift Work and Sleep - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Healthy Living Today: Shift Work and Sleep

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If you wake up to go to work when almost everyone else is ending their day, you're one of more than 22 million Americans. Sleep is one of the most important things the human body needs in order to perform at its best. And if shift workers don't get the right amount of sleep, it can cause some serious problems.

There are four stages of sleep: one, two, three and REM. If your REM cycle gets messed up, your body doesn't get the rest it really needs, and that doesn't bode well for those on shift-work.

"You have headaches all the time, you're sluggish. Some days, I would go where you get up, and you have errands to do because you want to be with normal people. And so, you don't even get any sleep. And then by six o'clock, you just crash," says shift worker Bonnie Reinke.

Sleep experts say taking breaks at work, eating a healthy diet filled with protein and carbohydrates, and taking naps during time off, all play an important role when it comes to eliminating that six o'clock crash.

"If they wake up, you know, to be with their family at eight and they have to work at eight that evening, you know, a good two to four hours during that day should be, you know, dedicated to taking a nap," says sleep coordinator Kayla Smith.

Now, sleep experts also say that staying away from smoking, drinking alcohol and heavily exercising before bed will help the body maintain sleep every night.  Smoking acts as a stimulant, and drinking also has its problems.

"Although you may be sleeping after you've had those few drinks, you don't stay asleep for long because the brain keeps waking up," says Smith.

Maintaining a sleep schedule isn't always easy, especially for shift workers, but it's important to never underestimate the power of a good night's sleep.

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