Businesses have grown more successful, forcing workers to work night shifts normally reserved for health care or security fields. While these shifts often offer attractive salaries, what impact do they have on employees’ health?
Night shifts can harm your health because they disturb your body’s circadian rhythm and upset your natural sleep cycle. Without proper self-care, it is possible to develop health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Therefore, individuals must prioritize their mental and physical health to ensure their bodies can thrive.
Here are a few tips for prioritizing your mental and physical well-being if you work untraditional hours.
Tips on staying healthy and productive when you work the night shift
Keeping healthy while working long hours can be challenging. Your ability to prioritize your well-being is the key to successfully tackling the risks associated with night shifts.
- Create a sleeping schedule
Setting up a consistent sleep routine is paramount to preparing yourself for the hard work of a night shift. When you work as a medical professional or firefighter, you may like to incorporate naps into your schedule. Try dedicating 4 hours in the evening and 4 hours in the morning to sleep. If you don’t like naps, consider sleeping in the morning before work from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m.
- Find Online Programs
If you’re a registered nurse, the chances are that you’re also a student who is juggling work, family, and studies. Find an online program that will give you the freedom to study whenever you want. Additionally, it will help you manage your night shift schedule, ensuring your schedule supports a healthy lifestyle. USI’s affordable BSN programs offer the flexibility to spend time with family, at the job, or whatever else you desire.
- Don’t overdo it on caffeine
Those who work through the night need refreshments to keep their energy levels high. Tea and coffee are perfect for that. However, be careful not to consume too much caffeine to avoid feeling jittery in the middle of your shift. It’s best to stop drinking caffeine around 2 a.m. so you can go to bed without having trouble sleeping.
This dentist who does quality teeth whitening in Cleveland TN also adds that too much coffee may cause dental health issues in the long run such as teeth staining and cavities.
- Have a healthy diet
A high sugar diet and foods high in trans fats can destabilize blood sugar levels and cause stomach discomfort on the night shift. Pack healthy snacks and meals like salads, fruits, veggies, and trail mix when you get hungry.
Prepare your meals at the beginning of the week to be ahead of the game. It will save you time thinking about what you want to eat throughout the week and get you ready in less time.
- Drink plenty of water
Be sure to drink enough liquids during your shift to remain awake and energized. Furthermore, it ensures that your bodily functions are functioning properly since our bodies rely heavily on water.
- Engage in regular exercise
Exercise will energize and prepare you for night shifts when you incorporate it into your work week. If you’re an overnight truck driver, finding the motivation to work out can be challenging. Get some fresh air and work on your cardio by doing simple activities like biking or hiking.
- Organize your routine
Make an effort to establish a schedule for when you go to bed and wake up once your work schedule has become somewhat established and consistent. As a result, you’ll ensure you’re getting a good night’s sleep while balancing other aspects of your life, such as spending time with your friends and family.
- Limit your intake of alcohol
In addition to disrupting the quality of your sleep after your shift, drinking alcohol will make you fall asleep faster. Alcohol is known as a sleep inducer, but it impacts your REM sleep, affecting how refreshed you feel when you wake up.
- Make good use of your free time
It’s natural for you to want to do something fun and exciting during your free time. Try to maintain a fairly consistent schedule to avoid having to readjust to your new schedule.
- Keep your household informed
Keep your roommates informed of your work schedule so they can create a sleeping environment that meets your needs. Knowing your schedule, you can also plan meals and parties and continue spending time together.
- Rest for a while
By strategically timing your naps, you can make the most of your break times. Make sure you find a quiet, dark place to rest for 20-30 minutes. It will help you stay focused and alert throughout the night.
- Avoid scheduling night shifts too far apart
When you’re having trouble adjusting to night shifts, schedule them consecutively. Taking advantage of the daytime when you are off will also be possible if you are a police officer or security guard.
- Make self-care a priority
Your mental health can be adversely affected by working night shifts. Staying connected to your feelings and how you are feeling can be helpful to you if you prioritize self-care practices such as meditation, yoga, and other forms of therapy.
- Make your bedroom sleep-friendly
When it’s time for bed, you will want to set up an environment that allows you to drift into a peaceful slumber as quickly as possible. Avoid scrolling through your phone or TV channels while looking through the blinds to block any unwanted light.
- Limit exposure to blue light
Tech devices emit blue light, which interferes with your sleep hormones and melatonin production. To maximize your amount of restful sleep, don’t use your phone or watch television before bedtime.
- Make sure you stay warm
Your body naturally regulates its temperature based on the internal thermostat, causing it to rise during the day and fall at night. Sleep comfortably at night by wrapping yourself up in a blanket and keeping cool during the day using a fan.
- Be mobile
Short walks during your shift can stimulate blood flow throughout your entire body and prevent you from falling asleep. Stretch your legs every few hours by going for a walk.
- Build a community
Seek advice and experiences from fellow professionals or online forums about taking on night shift hours. You could talk about healthy habits and routines that have helped you adjust to a new job, and maybe you could get some tips from others as well.
- Spend some time in the sun
Working night shifts increases your risk of vitamin D deficiencies, which affect calcium absorption and bone health. To get some sunlight, open your curtains or take a walk around your neighborhood after you’ve gotten some sleep.
- Consult a physician
Night-shift workers may experience headaches, insomnia, and nausea due to their work. Try to give yourself at least a month, and if you still experience these symptoms or if they worsen, seek medical advice. Having them assess your symptoms may help you manage them better.
Even if you are satisfied with your salary, remember that your mental and physical well-being is more important. With these tips and tricks, you will be able to take on your night shifts with the confidence that you will succeed.