The third shift, the nighttime shift, is necessary for millions of workers. Offering a competitive wage, it is often as desirable as a traditional work shift.
But, those late hours can have a detrimental impact on your body, decreasing your energy and effectiveness. In worse cases, it can harm your immune system and make you sick, so it’s important to teach your body to adjust.
Here are some important health reminders for third shift workers.
Develop a Consistent Routine
If you have the option, try to only work nighttime or daytime shifts, instead of switching back and forth. This will cause your body to be confused about when to rest, when to eat, and when to digest your food. When you’re on the job, use bright lights, music, and quick bursts of stretching or exercise to stay awake. Exercising right before your shift will even help to keep your more alert.
The best way to train consistency in your body is to maintain a regular sleep schedule. Sleep loss can be dangerous—your immune system suffers, your effectiveness on the job suffers, your short-term memory suffers, and your reaction time suffers.
Think about driving a car on very little sleep, it’s not safe at all. So, even when you work nights, you still need to get a solid, continuous eight hours of sleep during the day. It’s tempting to skip some of that daytime sleep, so you can enjoy time with friends and family, but this still deprives your body of a much-needed rest and rejuvenation.
To make sure you get enough sleep, stay loyal to a sleep ritual.
Go to Sleep as Soon as You Arrive Home from Work
Use a sleep mask, room darkening shades, or blinds to minimize the light in your bedroom. If you stay out in the sunshine for too long or leave too many lights on, your body will perk up and you’ll have trouble falling asleep.
Ask your family members or roommates to be quiet. Turn off your phone and use earplugs if you need to.
Avoid Sleep Aids, Alcohol and Caffeine
Sleep aids are a temporary solution that will help you fall asleep. Alcohol makes you drowsy but prevents you from achieving a deep sleep. And consuming caffeine too close to “bedtime” will keep you awake.
Get Adequate Nutrition
Healthy eating is tricky when your schedule is untraditional.
It’s easy to grab calories that are quick, such as a vending machine, but these are often loaded with sugar and fat. A sugary diet gives you quick spurts of energy, but then you crash quickly. Instead, plan and fuel up on complex carbohydrates that take a while for your body to break down, releasing energy slowly over a longer period. Stay hydrated to avoid cramps and headaches, keeping up blood flow and staying energized for your whole shift.
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