Sleep Hacking Third Shift?!

Hi! I'm brand new here, but familiar with Paleo since 2008-2009ish. I searched the forum and site for this topic so forgive me if I overlooked something.

I am lucky enough to work in my dream job environment - a brand new BSN-RN working in a surgical/trauma ICU. However, I was hired onto third shift (7p-7a three days in a row). This comes with advantages: shift diff, better learning environment, and more time with my toddler.

So far I am tolerating it pretty well and haven't gotten overly tired at work. I sleep a solid 8hrs following a shift and catch back up with the land of the living the next day. Days following coming off work my body tends to be wide awake at night and sleepy in the early afternoon, but I am just attributing this to being new to this sort of routine. I have taken melatonin or benadryl a couple times.

Now despite my decent toleration so far, I know research points to many negative health effects attributed to night shift. For example, breast cancer is higher among night shift working females (granted, I am nursing a two year old so maybe I'll hit even image/icon_cool.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':cool:' />).

How can I Bulletproof a night shift sleeping schedule for optimal health?


  • Shift work very tough to maintain over the long haul. I just had a two patients, a married couple, give up their 10 year jobs at a sleep lab. They feel so much better.

    1) Get off the shift as soon as you can. image/smile.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':)' />

    2) Completely black out your sleep environment. No clock radios, TV lights. phone charger lights etc.

    3) Take melatonin 30 minutes before you go to bed every day.

    4) Look into taking SAMe when you wake up, every day.

    5) Find an acupuncturist to show you horary acupressure points that you can use to help reset your body clock.

    Your toddler is lucky to have such a hard working mom. image/smile.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':)' />
  • 'Mackay' wrote:
    S3) Take melatonin 30 minutes before you go to bed every day.

    I would be semi cautious of this one. Melotonin is a hormone. The amount we actually secrete on our own, is much less than the standard dose, in pill form. The body has an adaptive ability, where it may down regulate its own melotonin production because of the exogenous use of a synthetic version. I personally use it to reset my clock after sleeping in on the weekends or staying up late.
  • Interesting point @ That One Guy

    A disrupted sleep pattern has already downregulated melatonin. I'm not going to argue for synthetics over natural, but in this case it's synthetic versus none (actually less). This is much more akin to supplementing with D3. Is sunlight better, of course, but D3 is better than nothing.

    Melatonin is very well tolerated, even in massive doses. We are talking about hacking an unnatural state, extraordinary measure may be called for.

    Even though I disagree, you bring up a good point that should be taken into consideration.
  • Found this over at perfect health diet blog.

    Maybe it can be of some help. I did a night shift for 2 months and slept in a dark room and took melotonin before bed. Basically I went to bed by noon and woke around 6-7pm.
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