In part 2 of our Managing shift work series we will today be discussing the importance of exercise and movement.

Did you know?

Aside from daily circadian rhythm, every 90 to 120 minutes your body goes through an ultradian rhythm. An ultradian rhythm is a recurrent period or cycle that starts with alertness and eventually fades away into drowsiness and lack of focus. To renew your energy and alertness you need to move every 1-2 hours. Plus stretching for just ONE MINUTE per day for a month can increase your range of movement by 70%!

Here's a couple of stretches to try.
Don't forget to consult your GP or healthcare professional before trying any new exercises, especially if you haven't previously exercised or exercised for an extended period of time.

Forward bend.

  • Cross one foot in front of the other and bend down from the hips, reaching your hands toward the ground. 
  • Don’t strain, keep the strength in the hips. 

  • Hold for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.

Tricep stretch.

  • Place your hand on your upper back with the elbow pointing towards the ceiling.
  • Use your other hand to pull the elbow towards your head. 

  • Hold for between 15 to 30 seconds. Switch arms and repeat.

The long and the short of it is - Exercise each day to improve your sleep.
Exercise is one of the few things that we can do to improve the amount of deep sleep (the most refreshing sleep) we obtain. All exercise is good, however vigorous, aerobic exercise is the type most associated with an increase in sleep quality.

Here's a final tip:
Before you head to work, spend 30 minutes performing some form of cardiovascular activity such as cycling, walking or jogging.
For some people, exercise helps them to fall asleep. If your shift ends early morning or during the day, light stretching after your shift could help you get a better day sleep.