The Government of Canada estimates that approximately 25% of North Americans are shift workers, which (loosely defined) means employment outside of the regular working hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Shift work could mean extended workdays of longer than eight hours or a workday that takes place mainly in the evening and early morning hours.
Nurses, emergency room doctors, air traffic controllers, medical sonographers, police officers, firefighters, paramedics, security guards, taxi/rideshare drivers, hospitality workers, and counsellors all tend to work gruelling overnight shifts. They are at the ready to help when everyone else is relaxing and getting ready for another day. Weighted blankets for shift workers are Hippo Hug’s way of promoting the restful sleep these folks need and deserve to be happy and healthy at work.
How a Weighted Blanket Can Help
Shift workers occupy important professions that require focus and attention. Accidents are common when people are tired, and in a worst-case scenario an error could lead to someone getting hurt. The Institute for Work and Health reports that irregular hours are strongly associated with an increased number of workplace injuries, with the night shift reporting the most incidents. This may be due to less supervision, fewer co-workers looking out for safety violations and each other, and, of course, fatigue.
Shift workers often arrive home at odd hours hoping to go directly to sleep in order to make the most of the precious few daylight hours available to them. This can be extremely difficult, as there is no time to decompress and allow for blood pressure to drop and adrenalin levels to go down. If your body cannot relax into sleep when your shift work schedule has sleep routine out of sync, then a weighted blanket could help you get to sleep quickly and promote more quality rest.
Weighted blankets for shift workers can assist through their application of deep pressure touch stimulation, and they can be used any time of the day. Deep, even pressure provides both physical and psychological benefits. Like a massage, deep pressure results in a relaxing and calming feeling. The weight and pressure can encourage the production of serotonin, which decreases heart rates and reduces blood pressure. There is also evidence weighted blankets may increase the production of melatonin, which is known to promote a good night’s sleep.
If you enjoy the feeling of a tight hug, tend to curl up in a tight ball while relaxing or trying to sleep, are comforted by the feeling of a heavy duvet, love the feeling of another person’s weight beside you, and tend to push your hands, arms, legs or feet between the wall and the bed, then a weighted blanket might be a good choice for you. Many customers report that a weighted blanket is like a deep breath and they experience quick relaxation and calmness.
Why Shift Work Leads to Lack of Sleep
The changing cycles of shift work can lead to disruption of circadian rhythms, which follow an approximate 24-hour cycle. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety says that sleeping, waking, digestion, secretion of adrenalin, body temperature, blood pressure, pulse and many other important aspects of body functions and human behaviour are regulated by circadian rhythms, which work to allow for peak productivity during the day. The body takes cues from clocks, sunlight, mealtimes, and activities to keep regulated. When these cues are out of sync with the body’s activities, feelings of fatigue and disorientation (similar to jet lag) can emerge.
Daytime sleep is rarely as deep and relaxing as night-time sleep. So shift workers who are on the job at night are at high risk of not being well-rested. Shift workers show high rates of gastrointestinal disorders and digestive problems such as indigestion, heartburn, ulcers, and stomach aches. This could be due to eating at odd hours, and eating food that may not be as healthy as possible due to lack of availability. Shift workers are also prone to consuming more caffeine than those who work during the day.
Remaining healthy overall can be very difficult for shift workers, as physical activities are usually scheduled for “normal” hours. Participation in family and social life can also be severely disrupted, leading to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Self-care is an important aspect of daily life that often gets neglected, weighted blankets are one way to care for yourself to increase overall health.
Some Sure Signs of Fatigue
If you are a shift worker and you notice any of the following it may mean you are not getting enough rest.
- Feeling sleepy and tired
- Being irritable
- Lack of an ability to concentrate
- Poor memory
- Decreased motivation
- Getting sick more often
- Change in appetite
- Digestive difficulties
More Tips for Sleeping Well as a Shift Worker
Weighted blankets for shift workers are a good start. Other ways to improve the overall quality of sleep for those keeping odd hours may include:
- Avoiding caffeine for at least six hours before bedtime.
- Eating three healthy meals a day, regularly spaced apart.
- Trying a sunshine alarm clock.
- Considering a larger bed so as not to disturb your sleep partner.
- Switching “off” with a warm bath or shower.
- Avoiding electronic devices for an hour before going to sleep.
- Trying to make your bedroom as dark as possible.
- Wearing ear plugs and a sleep mask.
If you are a shift worker, cooperate with your employer to ensure you are getting enough days off and not working endless shifts without a break. That’s not good for regular workers, and especially unhealthy for shift workers. Familiarize yourself with the labour laws in your area and advocate for work spaces that promote healthy living. But even when you are not working, do your best to not alter your sleep patterns dramatically. At the very least, try for four hours of sleep at the same time each night.
Weighted Blankets for Shift Workers: Let us Help You Choose
Hippo Hug weighted blankets use a unique and proprietary weighting system involving specially designed disks so the blanket has a low profile and looks just like a regular quilt. We use ceramic-coated metal disks instead of plastic pellets or glass beads, which will not shift or spill, making your blanket last longer.
Choosing the right size and weight of your blanket is personal, and we can help. Most research indicates that 5 to 15% of body weight is the universally agreed upon range for a weighted blanket, however we find most people prefer to use blankets on the heavier side. We have several different types of blankets in stock if you would like to borrow one to try out. We want to make sure you get the perfect blanket for you and we have expert staff ready to help you get the right weighted blanket. Contact us for more information!