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Sleep Disorders/sleeping and working odd hours


QUESTION: In the last month, I started an overnight job in a residential human services program. Four days a week, I punch in at 11:00pm and then I can sleep until about 6:00am when I need to get up and assist the residents get ready for the day. I usually sleep for about 6 hours. My shift ends at 9:00, at which point I go home and try to sleep for a few more hours.  On the other 3 nights, I go to bed around 10pm and sleep until 7 or 8.

If I let myself sleep without an alarm, I tend to sleep for 3 more hours,and then it feels like a lot of the day has passed without me doing anything. However, I am concerned that if I set an alarm for myself after 2 hours, that I am cheating myself out of needed sleep in the name of "accomplishing something productive." I know that I should normalize my sleep as much as possible,  but I don't know the best way to do it with this schedule.

Thank you,

ANSWER: You have to stay with the schedule that is best for you.   see the attached link.

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QUESTION: Thanks.  I have read articles like that already, but they did not answer my question.  My situation is different because I am actually able to sleep during much of my shift, but I am not able to get a full night's sleep all at once. How do I find a schedule that works best for me when my sleep has to be divided?

While you think you can sleep most of your shift, its not true restful sleep because you are at work.There is no set schedule for anyone accept I would say to try at least to get 6-8 hrs of sleep.  If you can manage that regardless of how broken up it is as long as it adds up to those hours, then you might adjust to that. In other words if you slept. 5 hrs on one shift, then go home set the clock for only 3 more hours.  You might need naps during the day, however perhaps since you say you sleep thru a lot of the shift, you might be able to set your sleep schedule just as if you are sleeping at night like the rest of us.   hope this helps. feel free to email again Karel.Other then that you might try to get a consult at a sleep center to see if they have any other ideas.But I would try that first. Karel

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Karel Sleis


all questions on sleep disorders,expert on narcolepsy,its symptoms


i have narcolepsy since age l6

past chairman of the american narcolepsy association
member of narcolepsy network

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