The nature of shift worker means that you are out at odd hours of the day, sometimes ending early in the morning, the middle of the night or during the day. This means that the times you want to unwind, relax or sleep do not always adhere to the schedule of others who might be in the middle of their working day. Inability to relax after a shift (regardless of the time) can increase the time it takes to get to sleep, causes restless or poor sleep and can make you more prone to stress and anxiety. Therefore, you should get in some decent relaxation time, here are some of the best ways to do so:
Wallowing in the bath can be a good way to relax during the day and get away from the distractions that are caused by others. It is generally quieter in the bathroom and can mean that you get more peace and quiet to relax by yourself. Being warm (not hot) can also naturally relax the body and muscles which is more conducive to falling asleep (be careful not to actually fall asleep in the bath which can be dangerous).
Although it is a form of exercise which is normally not recommended for shift workers until they have slept, there are actually several types of yoga. Hatha yoga, yin yoga or restorative yoga, for example, focuses on stretching and breathing, which relaxes the body, improves blood flow to reduce the risk of achy muscles the following day and also means that you can improve flexibility and breathing techniques.
It may seem silly, however reading is preferable to watching television or playing games on your phone, especially if you are trying to relax to prepare for sleep because the blue light that is created by screens actually act to keep you awake and do not allow your brain a rest (great if you are trying to get work done but terrible for relaxing).
White Noise Machine
If you need to relax as well as drown out other noises due to working night shifts a white noise machine could be just what you need. An example of a good option is the Lectrofan which can mimic realistic fan sounds to not only create a relaxing background noise, but also naturally drown out background noise and other distracting sounds. There is also a sleep option for this machine which means you can use it to naturally wake yourself up for shifts without causing too much disruption to others in the house.
This is a good practice to get into for shift workers specifically because meditating regularly can help to calm your mind, be less likely to get distracted and over time can help to naturally allow yourself to relax and fall asleep by clearing your mind. Also, natural breathing techniques help to slow the heart and calm the body due to the increased oxygen.
Overall, just because you are a shift worker does not mean that you shouldn’t be able to relax or get a decent nights’ sleep. Find what is best for you under the circumstances and do what you need to, to ensure that you get the time you need to reduce stress and relax.