While many people dread the graveyard shifts, we have some, who like the odd shift timings. The night owls generally have the opposite biological clocks, telling them conflicting timings. There was this one time when my manager asked me if I could contribute to helping the other team for a month because they were on fire. I agreed but it turned out to be a night shift!
There was no other option than silently hoping that the month passed in a snap. But for obvious reasons, a month is too long to happen in snap too!
Is night shift bad for your health?
The question is quite common for someone who is about to join a company that works only such shift timings. Night shifts can be one of the most difficult phases while trying to stick with a health regime. No matter how much we plan or pre-plan about doing things on time and in a healthy way, we lag totally in understanding that the night shift itself is taking the most of our well-being.
I am not suggesting that people working graveyards cannot maintain a healthy life at all. However, I am confident that working odd hours is not going to help a lot in the long run, if not taken care of.
After five days of working, the two precious days of freedom would mean almost about everything. So trying to match up with friends working on normal shifts is only going to make it worse during weekends. How can we make the most of the five working days to avoid falling a victim to the weekend clock hangover?
Working on night shift can include a lot of irregularities, like eating habits, exercises and sleep. Skipping meals, eating unhealthy and at an odd time, sleeping late and no work-out are the most usual phenomenon of night shift side-effects. This in return gives out higher risks of weight gain, insomnia and even heart diseases. Therefore, in order to achieve a good and effective regime during odd working hours, we need to learn the importance of a perfect work-life balance.
Few health tips for night shift employees:
So, here are few health tips that will help you understand how you can improve your sleep and overall health, while working on graveyard shifts.
- Get Your Food from Home – If you are not a good cook, make something nice and easy (plenty of recipes online esp. YouTube). Pack your dinner and snack so that you are not inclined towards getting junk for yourself. Salad for a change is also a good option if you love staying healthy. If you want to add carbs to you diet because you like it, try adding whole grains and slow burning food like brown rice and oats. This will keep you full and productive for quite some time.
- Keep Healthy Stock at Home – For people who like to sleep long hours, usually prefer readily available food. Keep easy to eat raw veggies at home like baby carrots, cucumber etc. and fruits that are easily available, like apples, bananas. Peanut butter sandwich and simple ready to cook oats are also one of the best options. Having these handy will help you when you’re running late for work – just grab and go!
- Stick to a Schedule – Since you are not working on a regular shift, there has to be a schedule that you can stick to, provided it is realistic. For a normal person, three meals along with a snack in between is an absolute necessity. Now if you are working from 9 pm – 6 am, you need to plan your schedule accordingly. For example: You can start with a breakfast once you are back from office i.e. from 6:30 am – 8 am (depending on how long you are stuck in the traffic), go to bed after that to complete at least 7 hrs of good sleep. Also, wake-up close to 4 pm and have lunch (to avoid empty stomach), prepare your dinner by 7 pm (you can make some extra to save time for the next day’s lunch), pack your food and then leave for work. Have your dinner by at least 9:30 pm (eating before you start your work will let you eat on time without postponing it for some urgent deliverable). Now since you’ll have a huge gap between your dinner and breakfast, your ready-to-eat fruits and nuts will come to your rescue.
- Reduce Coffee Intake – When it’s an urgent task and you are not yet out of your sleepy head, ‘coffee’ is the word. One shot of strong coffee gets you going for hours. That’s okay till you know when to stop! Coffee with limits is not harmful, but drinking coffee few hours or just before leaving office will keep you awake for pretty long, disturbing your bedtime routine and turning you into a zombie at work again the next day (which will force you to drink more of it later). If you have taken coffee twice for the night, it should be before 3 am, because it needs 4 – 5 hrs to drain the effect out of the body. You don’t want to reach home tired but unable to sleep because of that, unless you have something really urgent back at home too!
- Bring in the Work-Out Regime – We all work in shifts, either a regular one or the odd one, and trying to fit in the work-out balance will not just help you stay fit, but will also help you add bonus points to the schedule you are going to include going forward. Even if a regular work-out session is not possible, we still have milder alternates to that. Opting for stairs over elevators and following simple breathing exercises will really help in staying healthy and also promote better sleep.
- Go Nutty – Always keep nuts like Almonds, Cashews, Walnuts or anything equivalent packed in small pouches inside your bag. Nuts and seeds are filling, flavorful and contains nutrients like Vitamins, Healthy fats, Minerals, Calcium and Magnesium.
- Get Enough Sleep – The most frequently asked question for night shift workers is: ‘How to avoid sleep at work?’ Sleep is the most important key part of a healthy lifestyle. We tend to ignore sleeping well at times, thinking we will balance it the next day. But the truth is that we cannot really balance it unless we are determined to. For people working night shifts, good sleep of at least 7 hrs is a must.
In addition, few more things like drinking enough water to keep yourself hydrated, snacking on healthy food between meals and a good preparation before starting your work shift will not just assist in a better lifestyle but will also keep you equally refreshed throughout.
Now that we have talked so much about what we should and shouldn’t do if we are working night shifts, we’d like to know a little more on how are you going about the whole thing in real!
What are the mostly faced inconsistencies in your lifestyle? Do you have a schedule to keep yourself fit and healthy? How do you make sure you’re not falling victim to the graveyard shift hangover during weekends?
Please feel free to share your story with us so that we can connect more. 🙂
Take care and keep healthy!