Working a graveyard shift is the most challenging task. Whether you are an early riser or a night owl, a night job can disrupt your entire schedule and ruin your body clock. It also brings with it a lot of other diseases and disorders.
How is the life of a person doing a night job?
Well, for those who haven’t been into one it sounds fun and easy, but the harsh reality is quite different. You work at a time when the whole world is sleeping, you’ve got dark circles, you can’t attend weekday parties and outings, even on holidays you are awake the whole night, coffee runs in your veins instead of blood, your new best friend is ‘the watchmen’, some of you haven’t even seen your HR since the day you were hired, you know about the ghost that hangs out in your office’s storeroom and you sleep when the world is awake with a lot of light and sound and every tragedy happens when you are asleep.
Now that is quite a difficult routine to follow, right? This routine also takes a serious toll on your health like increased risk of heart diseases, fatigue, metabolic problems, obesity, sleep disorders, certain cancers and a lot more.
Our body has its own clock called circadian pacemaker which generates rhythms that regulates the body’s behavioral and psychological processes like alertness, sleep, hunger, temperature control and production of hormones. Now, these rhythms run in 24-hour cycles influenced by the natural daylight and darkness. Processes are active in the daytime, making you alert and slow down at night to induce sleep and rest making you less alert.
Here we are with 5 tips to battle and survive your graveyard shift job and remain healthy –
1. Stick To A Sleep Schedule
In the day the body is set to be active and in the night the circadian pacemaker releases a hormone called melatonin that compels you to sleep. A night shift causes you to battle against your natural rhythm by trying to be alert when you are programmed to be sleeping. Similarly, the daylight exposure tells you to be active and alert when you want to sleep. So, to get a proper good day sleep which is essential for surviving the next night’s work without feeling tired and fatigue, here are some quick tips-
- Try not to delay going to bed after you reach home, the more you delay the less likely you fall asleep.
- Dedicate proper 7 to 9 hours for your sleep.
- Have something light to eat before you go to bed.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking before going to bed.
- Make your bedroom quiet, dark and cool.
- Don’t make any sleep debts, give your body daily sleep without fail.
2. Cut Down On Caffeine And Energy Drinks
No doubt you are a coffee lover if you are working on a night job, and if you were not soon you will become one. Coffee is the first choice of anyone who wants to be awake the whole night. Caffeine not only keeps your sleep away but also suppresses those hunger pangs. Some people also consume energy drinks to survive the night war. These fluids may help you instantly but they can be the most dangerous killer for your health if taken constantly. Excessive caffeine and substances present in energy drinks can host another set of health problems gastrointestinal upsets and muscle shakes.
- Limit the consumption of coffee while you are working, you can have 1 or 2 during the whole shift.
- Replace those energy drinks with natural fruit juices with no sugar.
- Try to drink your last cup of coffee 4-5 hours before your shift ends, otherwise, caffeine will not let you sleep when you reach home.
- You can also eat energy-rich foods like an apple or a fruit salad.
3. Keep A Watch Over Your Diet
Here comes the circadian rhythm again; a disruption in it causes effects on the metabolism in the body resulting in metabolic syndrome. This increases the risk of becoming overweight or obese. Making a proper diet plan and eating healthy can help you to stay alert when you are working and relaxed when you sleep.
- Make a schedule for eating, your lunch, dinner, and snacks must be paced properly and follow the same pattern daily.
- You can eat frequent light meals to avoid drowsiness at work.
- Drink an adequate amount of water and keep yourself hydrated.
- Eat fruits and vegetable salads as a snack.
- Avoid sugary foods.
- Eat foods that are easily digestible and high in protein like peanut butter, crackers, rice, bread, egg and milk products.
- Stop unhealthy snacking.
Also Read: 10 Ways To Get Better Sleep
4. Exercise Moderately
Night shifts can limit the number of physical activities you do, leading to health problems like obesity, fatigue, and laziness. Exercises are a great way to feel energetic and avoid obesity too. The body needs to involve in some physical activities, you can indulge some exercise routines in your daily life like –
- Make an exercise routine of some simple exercises and plan it according to your comfort. You can do it before or after a shift as you like.
- You can also do some light walking or jogging before or during breaks in your shift.
- Climbing stairs instead of taking elevators is also a good option.
- Stretch your hands and legs in your shift breaks.
5. Keep Control Over Light Exposures
As melatonin is released in the night to make you fall asleep, it is also suppressed by the morning light and cortisol is elevated, this makes you feel alert and awake. Artificial light also does the same thing, prolonged exposure to bright light causes the same effect on the circadian pacemaker as the sunlight has. During the night you can expose yourself to bright light and suppress the light exposure when you sleep after your shift. Ways to control light exposure are –
- Switch off electronic devices at your home that emits bright light.
- Try not to watch television before sleeping.
- Limit the use of mobile, tablet and laptop before you go to bed.
- Use dark-colored and thick curtains to block the light coming from outside.
- You can use a sleep mask to block the light.
- While working, work in bright light. Use bright desk lamps or lightbox to be alert.
- While returning home you can wear sunglasses.
Also Read: 6 Ways To Tackle Insomnia
Working on a night job may be a very difficult task but once you get along with it, everything will turn out to be easy. Following the above tips will keep you healthy as well as active, which is the prime necessity of your body.