6 Ways To Be Healthy When Working A Night Shift

Healthy When Working A Night Shift

Is it really possible to maintain a healthy lifestyle while sacrificing the most critical hours of sleep for a night shift? The answer is yes, albeit not very easy to achieve. Working irregular hours requires some serious adjustments, but if done right, it is possible to stay fit, get enough sleep, and maintain top-notch functioning.

Many emergency room nurses, doctors, firefighters, air traffic controllers, and others have to tackle the challenge of working night shifts and turning their routines upside down. It is a challenge to find a sleep routine that meets your specific needs while ensuring good eating habits and staying active.

Even if you are a self-proclaimed night owl, working a night shift is an entirely different domain. Fortunately, like everything else, no matter how difficult, it is not impossible to master. If you are here looking for a way to ensure a healthy lifestyle while working a night shift, you are in the right place. The following tips are what you are looking for:

1.Identify the right sleep routine for yourself

The first and foremost concern for night shift workers is, of course, getting enough sleep. Your bodily clock monitors your sleep-wake cycles, and you must adjust your circadian rhythm accordingly when going against the common routine of sleeping through the night.

Sleep is crucial, no matter how old you get; it is the body’s natural way of taking a break to repair itself. Prioritize sleep because insufficient sleep can contribute to numerous problems, one of which is substance use. Substance use can quickly become substance abuse and affects your life negatively. If you or a loved one is tackling a substance use problem, visit www.delphihealthgroup.com for guidance about treatment and recovery.

Sleeping long enough is hard for night shift workers because they have to adjust to sufficient sleep when everyone around them is awake and active. To start, identify and fix a sleep schedule; then, on your decided time, create an environment that helps you sleep by using blackout blinds, comfortable bedding, and earplugs.

2.Avoid caffeinated drinks before bedtime

While it is common knowledge that taking caffeine right before bed can wreak havoc on your sleep routine, many don’t know that caffeine can stay in your bloodstream for up to 12 hours. It is recommended not to drink coffee at least five to six hours prior to bedtime.

You might be habitual of taking coffee to get through the shift – as do nearly 83% of Americans – but keep in mind your sleep schedule when you decide to drink coffee. If you intend to sleep right after your night shift, avoid drinking coffee close to the end of the day.

If you need an energy boost, simple green tea is a good alternative when you need a light dose of caffeine, as it contains only a third of the amount of caffeine compared to coffee.

3.Limit exposure to blue light

Blue light can ruin your sleep routine by blocking the sleep hormone melatonin. Blue light is a component of the visible light spectrum that has a short wavelength and produces high energy. While exposure to blue light is inevitable and necessary during the day, it is best avoided at night.

Unfortunately, sunlight is no longer the only source of blue light in our lives; electronic devices are another major source. On average, Americans spend 7 hours a day on such devices. Now, if you don’t limit your exposure to blue light (be it from sunlight or electronic devices) at the time you intend to sleep, your body will not get the rest it needs.

When returning from your night shift, ideally 60-90 minutes before sleep, use blue light-blocking glasses. Interestingly, after exposure to bright light on your shift, using sunglasses to block light on your way back can trick your body into believing it’s nighttime and promote better quality sleep.

4.Drink plenty of water

It is common for us to fail to consume the recommended amount of 2200 ml (for women) – 3000 ml (for men) of water in a day. It becomes even harder to achieve when we have a busy routine, as many night shift workers do. However, sufficient water is a must for good physical and mental health.

Always keep a water bottle by your side, eat plenty of juicy fruits, opt for water over sugar-rich beverages, drink herbal tea, and drink water with every meal.Water solves many problems, from constipation to kidney stones, dehydration to overheating.

5.Exercise regularly

Another major hurdle night shift workers face finding the time and energy to incorporate physical activity into the routine. Night shift workers are more likely than others to experience weight gain, heart disease, and diabetes.

Ideally, 30 minutes of activity a day is a must for people of all ages; it is even truer for night shift workers. The best way to achieve this is to start your day with a workout. You can schedule a 30-minute workout as soon as you wake up or divide your exercise into bits and pieces throughout the day; jog for 15 minutes at the start of the day. Fit in a few sit-ups while your breakfast is getting ready, and do some push-ups when you have a break during your shift.

Yoga is another way to promote better body strength and body flexibility. It also facilitates better cardiovascular and respiratory function.

6.Avoid social isolation

Since night shift workers are doing the opposite of what others are doing, many fall into the vicious cycle of only sleeping, eating, and working, not finding any time to spend with others. This increases the likelihood of them suffering from depression and poor psychological well-being.

It is human nature to socialize; after all, ‘man is a social animal.’ Try your best to spend time with your friends and family. Put away your phone when you are free, go on a vacation with your kids whenever you can, or eat together as a family. In short, don’t become a hermit.

Final words

Jobs that demand night shifts are no walk in the park; with an irregular sleep-wake pattern, opposite of the body’s natural tendency, it is difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but surely not impossible. If you are a night shift worker, begin by fixing a sleep schedule for yourself, steer clear of caffeinated drinks before bedtime, limit exposure to blue light, stay hydrated, exercise, and socialize. It is important that you keep up with all this so that your irregular work hours do not disturb your body’s functioning.