My husband is a brewer, and he’s worked third shift for a handful of years now. It was so rough, at first! Whenever sleep times are messed with, it’s difficult. But getting used to a completely opposite sleep schedule is a nightmare. For the first few weeks of third shift life, he just couldn’t sleep more than a few hours at a time. He was exhausted and crabby, and I knew he couldn’t go on this way forever. So, I did some thinking and came up with ways to help him…
A curtain by any other name
Buying blackout curtains probably seems like an obvious must, but when I initially went to buy curtains to make our bedroom dark during the day, I accidentally bought “room-darkening” curtains, and they are NOT the same thing as the “blackout” variety! He tried to sleep with them hung for about a week, but they still let way too much light in. In the end, we donated our room-darkening curtains and splurged on heavy-duty, thick blackout curtains.
I got a wrap-around curtain rod to ensure that light didn’t peek in through the sides of the curtains, and hung the rod as close to the ceiling as possible so light couldn’t come in through the top. A small amount of light still gets through, but the setup works well enough that the bedroom is comfortably dark.
The trials and tribulations of white noise
We have a ceiling fan, but the whirring of the fan blades wasn’t enough to drown out the noise of the dogs and me living our lives by day while he slept. We try to be fairly quiet while he’s asleep during the day, but inevitably, the noise we made was bothering him.
I tried buying just a standard box fan for the bedroom to help with noise, but it was ugly, clunky, and always seemed in the way. Plus, my dogs were constantly knocking it over.
Next, I bought a white noise machine — the kind that comes with a variety of sounds for you to choose to listen to on a loop. I thought “beach mode” was nice, but my husband said they were all too distracting and actually kept him from sleeping.
Cleaner air = Better sleep?
I thought the air in my house was super-clean before I bought the air purifier. I also invested in a great Dyson vacuum and use it almost daily, along with a Bissell carpet cleaner on all the carpets once every two weeks. And I generally just keep a very clean house. However, the air purifier I bought for our bedroom has made a world of difference.
The built-in fans on the air purifier make a steady, soothing noise, and it works so well that there’s a noticeably different air quality in that room — the air seems to even taste clean, if that makes sense. My husband swears that this helps him sleep better, in addition to the steady noise it makes.
Brrrr, it’s cold in here
Something that helps enormously is simply lowering the temperature. When he comes home from work in the morning, I turn the thermostat down to about 65-67 degrees. When he wakes up in the afternoon, I switch it back to 72 degrees. He says he sleeps better when he’s chilly!
Snuggle up, Buttercup
I upgraded our bedding and even our mattress in a major way when he switched to third shift, because I know his sleep is more important than ever. We invested in The Company Store comforters, and I’ll never go back. I love them; it feels like you’re snuggling up with a cloud. I also bought these pillows from Amazon, after years of just buying whatever pillows were on sale at Target at the time. I chose them because they had over 12,000 good reviews, but I kept them because they’re literally the pillows to end all pillows. They’re cool and adjustable, and my husband gets the best sleep of his life with them.
In addition to great bedding, we dropped some Gs upgrading our mattress to a top-of-the-line Serta. I love our mattress and totally think that it’s important to invest in a great one if you’re able to, but finding sheets to fit it is a BITCH because it’s so incredibly thick. Even most “extra-deep pocket” sheets don’t come close to fitting it. I can guarantee that our next mattress will not be as thick. Ours offers a very luxurious sleep, but it’s also a pain and expensive, because I have to buy sheets from the manufacturer, and they only come in a few, boring colors (no cute, metallic printed sheets from Target for me!).
Patience is key when switching to third shift life. It’s a huge adjustment for your body and your lifestyle. Use that shift differential to invest in blackout curtains, play around with different sounds (fans, air purifiers, white noise machines, etc.) until you find what works for you, adjust the room temperature to your liking, and make sure you have a comfy place to cozy up! A good sleep is essential, and, even though it’s work, it’s totally possible to get quality rest while on a weird sleep schedule. Good luck!
Are you a 3rd shifter, or living with one? What has and hasn’t worked in terms of transitioning your sleep schedule? Comment below!