When working a job that includes shift work, knowing when the right time to measure is for you is important. As "I work shifts, when should I measure?" is a broad question, we have listed a few scenarios below to help you determine when to 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 standard waking time), after roughly the same amount of sleep meaning 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 weekly.
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 to give the most consistent measurements. If you have a day off, please try to measure at the same time as you would 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 "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 it in the routine but exclude it 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 it 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 days 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 measurement time every week. You should exclude the temperature on the first day of each new shift week so that your body can 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, making it more difficult for the app to confirm ovulation and 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 contact us. Make sure to explain your typical work and sleep schedule daily to help us give you a more detailed answer.
It is also good to remember that if you do not measure every day or sometimes need to exclude your temperature, Natural Cycles' effectiveness as a birth control will not be affected. Logging less temperature data means that you will experience more Red Days, where protection is needed, which may reduce your satisfaction with Natural Cycles. Learn more here.
Note: If you are struggling with your measuring routine, know that you now have the option to use Natural Cycles with one of our approved wearable devices (the Oura Ring and the Apple Watch). When using Natural Cycles with a wearable device, your temperature data gets measured overnight while you sleep. This means that you no longer need to remember to take your temperature before getting out of bed in the morning! Learn more about using Natural Cycles with the Oura Ring here, and with the Apple Watch here.