If you work the second shift, generally from 4 p.m. to midnight, or the overnight shift while most people sleep, you experience a side of the world that many others do not. You may also run into problems that people who work during the day normally bypass. For example, you could be on the roads at a time when there are more drunk or distracted drivers around, and darkness limits everyone’s visibility. You no doubt know it is dangerous to drive while fatigued, so here are some ways you can stay alert.
Use blackout curtains and other sleep aids
Blackout curtains work to block out light, enabling you to sleep more efficiently during the day. Further sleep aids include non-caffeinated tea and warm milk in the hour before you fall asleep. Earplugs and a white noise machine also help many people.
That said, firm boundaries could end up as your best sleep aids. It is all too easy to sacrifice sleep if your spouse or children are waking you up. Explain the importance of proper sleep, and hang a sign on your doorknob that says something like, “I’m asleep. Look for me after 4 p.m.”
One great way to stay alert on the road is to have a co-worker buddy or several to chat with. Of course, this is not always feasible. If you find yourself incredibly tired after a shift, do not drive. Call for an Uber or a cab instead, or take public transportation if available.
Regular exercise promotes good health and sleep, no matter which shifts you work. Make getting at least 30 minutes per day a priority. Even a simple walk does wonders.
When your shift ends, try to go for a five-minute or 10-minute walk before getting into the car. This may help clear your head and make you a little more alert.
A moderate amount of caffeine may be just the trick to keep you awake enough until you can crash in bed at home. You might choose to experiment with caffeine pills and coffee, but stay away from sugary and high-calorie sodas if you can. In fact, caffeine should be at the end of your list of tricks.
Of course, just because you are alert as you drive home does not mean other drivers are. Being involved in a car accident can be a frightening time filled with questions about your future and perhaps even keeping your job and paying important bills. Getting in touch with an attorney as early as possible may be helpful.