According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 15 million Americans work permanent night shifts or rotate out of night shifts. This is a very significant number of people and if you have ever tried working nights, you'll understand just how difficult it can be.
Night shifts can quickly take a toll on a person's mental, physical, and emotional health. People often find that they feel disconnected from the rest of society, that they find it difficult to sleep, and they experience a number of negative side effects.
Night shifts are an unfortunate fact of life for some people, but there are some night shift tips that you can use to mitigate that harm to your health. In this post, we're going to take a look at how to survive working night shifts.
How To Prepare For A Night Shift
Lots of people struggle to stay awake and alert during their night shift. This is because the body's natural internal processes start to prepare for sleep in the nighttime. Our body tries to follow a natural circadian rhythm that is sensitive to things like light and temperature.
There are some quick techniques that you can use to prepare for your night shift, though. Here's a look at some of those top tips:
Nap before your shift
During the night, your brain will release melatonin to let your body know that it's the nighttime. This means that your body will begin to relax and make it easier for you to fall asleep quicker.
One of the most effective ways to put an end to those feelings of drowsiness is to have a nap before your night shift begins. A quick 30-minute nap will help you to power through your night shift with minimal feelings of sleepiness.
During the night, your body is preparing for sleep. One of the ways to disrupt that dynamic is to remain active throughout the night. If your work doesn't demand any physical activity, try to stand up and take regular walks to raise your heart rate and fight off those feelings of tiredness.
Just small portions of regular exercise can go a long way to helping you feel fresh and ready to tackle your shift with all you have.
Try to socialize
Regular night shifts can quickly take a mental toll on a person. Many workers begin to feel that they are detached from society and moving to a different rhythm - a lack of social interaction can compound that feeling and affect your mental health.
If possible, you should try to socialize with your colleagues or customers over the course of your night shift. That social interaction can release serotonin and satiate your brain's natural appetite for social activity.
Limit your caffeine intake
Lots of people find it tempting to rely on caffeine to power through their night shift. While caffeine can be useful in small doses (and taken at strategic times), it could compound the dangers of night shift work by making it difficult for you to sleep when you finish your shift.
It's important that you pay particularly close attention to your sleep hygiene while working nights. This can help you to get the duration and quality of sleep that you require to keep yourself in good health.
Why Lack Of Sleep Can Have Long-Term Health Implications
If you start working night shifts, you might begin to wonder how is a lack of sleep bad for your health.
Well, a lack of sleep can, unfortunately, have a host of negative impacts on your overall health. People who suffer to achieve the appropriate quantity and quality of sleep find that they are more susceptible to serious health conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.
You might also wonder how a lack of sleep affects your mental health. Sleep deprivation can lead to a number of mental health issues including anxiety and depression.
As you can see, it's very important that you carefully monitor how night shifts affect your physical and mental health. There's no shame in pursuing professional help if you feel as though it's becoming too much for you.
Preparing Healthy Meals
If you have to work night shifts, you need to do everything that you can to protect your overall health. You'll want to explore a healthy meal plan for night shift workers, for instance, so that you have all of the nutrients and vitamins to stay healthy.
You'll want to make sure that you incorporate protein-rich foods into your diet, for instance, to give you the energy that you need to push through. Heavy meals might make you feel sleepier, though, so you should carefully consider your portion sizes.
As always, it's very important that you stay hydrated through the night to keep your body performing to the best of its mental and physical ability.
What To Snack On During Night Shifts
Given that large meals can cause people to feel sleepy, you might want to look at some healthy snacks for night shift work. These smaller snacks can provide you with lots of energy and help you to avoid that heavy feeling that comes after a large meal.
You should look for snacks that contain protein to give you energy - you might want to think about incorporating these protein-rich snacks into your diet:
- Greek yogurt
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Peanut butter
Those snacks can give you the boost of energy that you just might need to get through the rest of your night shift.