What steps can I take to adjust to a new sleep schedule?

I worked the night shift for a little over two years, but switched to a regular day job four months ago. I am still having problems sleeping most nights and am surprised that I have not been able to adjust yet. What steps should I take to start getting some sleep?

Doctors Answers (2)

SomnoDiagnostics, Inc.
Answered on: 4/17/2014

Keeping a habitual bedtime and arise time are essential. Do not nap during the day. You might consider speaking with your physician regarding a medication to help you initiate sleep until you have adjusted to the schedule change.

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 4/4/2014 1

It is common for shift workers to have difficulty returning to a normal schedule. Some persons never adjust. However, there are methods to help with the adjustment. You may have to make your day, as it were using a combination of light therapy and medication to force both wakefulness and sleep. I would start by seeing a sleep specialist who can help. Possibly, call in advance and make certain that the specialist treats circadian rhythm disorders. Some sleep doctors only treat a single disorder or two such as sleep apnea or insomnia. I would suggest you start taking a sleep aid at bedtime (adding one mg of melatonin may help) and a stimulant medication as needed in the morning. There are light boxes (www.sunbox.com, for example) which should be used in the early morning upon awakening. This light entrains your brain to daylight which is the number one driving force to promote wakefulness. These medications and light therapy should be continued for several days and then gradually remove them. Continue the light even though you do not think it is helping. Stay in light all day.