Health Tips For People Who Work In Night Shifts
You may be working in a hospital, a call center, the hospitality industry or have a job that requires you to liaison with international partners and work as per their time schedules. Either way, working during a night shift can wreck havoc on your system if you aren't careful. Here are some tips to follow to avoid the pitfalls of working in the graveyard shift.
Take adequate time to re-adjust your body clock
As human beings, we are naturally predisposed to rise when the sun rises and sleep once it turns dark. If you have just started working in the night shift, you might find yourself feeling lethargic at night and active during the day. Your body clock will take time to adapt to the new schedule. This will not happen overnight and will take some time. You should have patience.
Keep a careful watch on your diet
When you work in a night shift, you end up having at least one or two meals at work. Since food is probably readily available in your canteen, you may overstuff yourself. Try and have your dinner by 8pm, before you begin your shift. If you feel hungry between 12 midnight and 6 am, choose lighter meals that are high in protein and fiber and low in fat and sugar. If 8pm is too early for you to have dinner, avoid eating canteen food. Instead, pack your own meals and include protein-rich food like peanut butter, hard-boiled eggs, peas, tuna and beans, which will increase your energy and alertness. Avoid fried food, which is hard to digest and tends to linger in your stomach, causing you to feel lethargic. Choose easy-to-digest meals like mild soups, yoghurt, salads and fresh vegetable sandwiches. Eating smaller portions more frequently have more benefits that eating one large meal at one go. Caffeine should be consumed in small amounts.
Eat a healthy breakfast
When you return home in the morning, you are probably ravenous. But you are also alert and might not be able to fall asleep soon. Try eating a carbohydrate-rich breakfast with muffins, cereals, fruit and bread, which has been proven to make you feel sleepy.
Get a good rest
Working in a night shift can take a lot out of you. But no matter how tired you are, you might find it a bit difficult to get to sleep. Turn your phone into silent mode, draw the curtains to block sunlight, see that your mattress is not too lumpy and your pillows provide enough cushioning. An air-conditioner or an overhead fan can provide the droning sound that acts as a buffer against outside sound and creates white noise which assists in healthy sleep patterns. An undisturbed sleep that lasts at least four to five hours will help you feel much more relaxed than if you break up your sleep in small durations.
Keep the urge to snack at bay
Most people who work at nights have a job that requires them to sit in one place for long periods of time. So, the urge to occupy your facial muscles by snacking on something arises. But this leads to consumption of many calories in the process. If you do have the urge to snack, choose things like kurmura (puffed rice) or a fruit and avoid chips and chocolates.
Make sure your work setting is appropriate
If your job entails you to sit down in one spot for long time, there a few ergonomic principles you can consider to keep yourself in shape. See that the top of your monitor is either at or below eye level, blink your eyes often to help lubricate them and use an anti-glare screen to protect your eyes. Every hour make sure you look away from the computer to avoid straining your eyes. Have good posture at work and avoid slouching or jerky movements while getting up or sitting on your chair. Allow your lower limbs to support your back by ensuring that your feet touch the floor. Use a small cushion to give your back the support that it needs.
Keep yourself hydrated
If you are working in an air-conditioned office, it is vital to keep yourself hydrated by drinking tons of water. The air conditioner dehydrates your skin and can prevent you from giving your 100%. Always have a bottle of water by your desk and keep sipping on it often. Caffeinated beverages like tea or coffee dehydrate your system further so don't overdo it. Try buttermilk instead. Sipping on warm water also helps keep colds at bay.
Walk to stay alert
Grogginess is part and parcel of working nights. The moment you feel groggy, go for a short walk around the office. You could also pop in a sugar free chewing gum or a mint to stay alert.
If you have to change you shift, change it forward
Make sure you change your shift forward if you have to and not backward. This allows your body to copy with the changes better. Therefore, if you were doing a morning shift, change it to an afternoon shift instead.
Have regular health check-ups
It is essential to visit your physician and undergo an annual medical check-up even if you don't seem to have any obvious health issues. Listen to the advice that your physician gives you about your lifestyle and try and incorporate it the best way possible. Be sure to include some physical activity into your daily routine to keep the imminent weight gain at bay, even if it is just half an hour of brisk walking.