Note: this article applies to Cyclers using the app with a basal thermometer. If you use an Oura Ring, please refer to the Oura section of Cyclerpedia.
When working a job that includes shift work, it's important to know when the right time to measure is for you. As "I work shifts, when should I measure?" is a broad question, we have listed a few scenarios below to help you figure out when you should measure based on your schedule.
The main recommendations for measuring are:
- Always measure right away when you wake up, before any movement or snoozing.
- If possible, aim to measure at the same time each morning (or ±2 hours of your normal waking time), after roughly the same amount of sleep. This means that if you have slept two hours more or less than usual, or wake up two hours later or earlier than usual, you should exclude your temperature for that day.
- We recommend you aim for adding at least five temperatures per week. If you find it challenging to find a consistent time to measure, try to find a consistent measuring time on as many days in the week as possible based on your schedule, even if this means not adding five measurements a week.
1. I work the night shift two days a week and the day shift for the rest of the week
You should measure during the mornings of your day shift, as you most often work the day shift. This will give the most consistent measurements and the most accurate data. If you have a day off, please try to measure at the same time as you would on a day when you work the day shift, to maximize the number of temperatures each week. When working the night shift, we recommend that you continue measuring after your daily rest to keep up the habit but exclude the temperature by clicking on "slept differently."
2. I only work night shifts
If you work four night shifts per week (or more), you should measure in the afternoon after your daily sleep according to your sleep schedule, as this is your "morning" and when you start the day. If you have a day off and wake up at a different time, you can measure your temperature to keep in the routine, but exclude the temperature when you log it in the app.
If you only work three night shifts per week (or less), and are off on all other days of the week, you can instead exclude your temperature on the days when you work, and measure on your days off, as you will be able to log more temperature data this way.
3. I have "On Call" shifts, where my sleep varies during my shift (e.g., doctor, nurses)
This may mean that you cannot measure at all during the day or nights when you are on call, as you may not reach your deep sleep and, therefore, not your resting temperature. On the other days, you should try to measure roughly at the same time (please also refer to scenario 1 for further guidance).
4. I alternate weekly between day and night shifts
You should change the time of measurement every week. You should exclude the temperature on the first day of each new shift week so that your body has a chance to get accustomed to the change in routine. On your days off, please try to measure at the same time as on a working day to maximize the number of temperatures each week.
5. I constantly work different shifts throughout the week
This may make finding a consistent measuring time difficult due to your changing sleep schedule. You should try to measure at the same time after roughly the same amount of sleep, so try to find a consistent time for this according to your schedule.
Some things to consider when working shifts
As a shift worker, you may experience more temperature fluctuations, which can make it more difficult for the app to confirm ovulation. This means that you may have more red days (NC° Birth Control) as the algorithm has a high safety requirement for giving a green day, or brown days (NC° Plan Pregnancy). Using LH tests can help the algorithm pinpoint your ovulation, which can lead to greater satisfaction with using Natural Cycles as NC° Birth Control Cyclers may receive more green days, and NC° Plan Pregnancy Cyclers may have a more precise window within which you should try to conceive.
If you feel that the scenarios above don’t apply to you, or you would like more guidance about when you should measure, please feel free to send us an email. Make sure to explain your typical work and sleep schedule on a day-to-day basis to help us give you a more detailed answer.