graveyard shift worker

Ways to Stay Healthy While Working the Graveyard Shift

Although working during graveyard hours often means fewer traffic jams and better pay, it can also make you develop unhealthy habits. You might find yourself binging on junk food, chugging caffeinated drinks, and skipping your workouts on a daily basis.

Below are self-care tips to help you survive the night shift without sabotaging your health.

Diet

More protein, less carbs

Making the right food choices can keep you alert throughout the night. Protein-rich food like tuna, chicken, eggs, peanut butter, turkey, and tofu can increase your focus. Protein will you provide energy when you start to feel tired and hungry. Carbohydrates like bread, cereal, rice, and potatoes, on the other hand, can increase drowsiness.

Avoid sugar and sweetened beverages

Sugar consumption may give you a short burst of energy, but can leave you feeling inactive later on. Keep in mind that your body struggles to process sugar intake in the evening, so eating a chocolate bar at night is even unhealthier than usual. It also doubles the risk of diabetes.

Cut down the caffeine

Caffeinated drinks such as coffee or energy drinks promote alertness by blocking your adenosine receptor. However, research suggests that higher doses of caffeine have harmful effects on your health. This includes heart palpitations, nausea, and insomnia. Drinking a cup of coffee towards the start of your shift can keep you awake. But too much coffee throughout the night can keep you from falling asleep in the morning.

Sleep

Stick to a sleep schedule

Sleep-deprived workers easily get irritable, exhausted, and/or depressed. Following a consistent sleep schedule will adjust your body clock accordingly and let you sleep more soundly. Having a full 8 hours of sleep will also improve your memory and focus during your shift.

Napping

Studies suggest that naps are effective both before and during the shift. Naps provide rejuvenation, boost moods, and reduce work-related mistakes. A power nap (10–15 minutes) during the night shift is usually enough to restore alertness.

Exercise

Workout before sleeping

Physical activity can help you fall asleep faster. Doing yoga and some light stretches can ease stress and tension. Exercise also helps you get deeper sleep.

Exercising during your shift

Squeeze in some exercise during your shift. You can climb the stairs, walk around the facility, or do a couple of stretches during breaks. Research shows that exercise transports oxygen and nutrients to your tissues keeping your cardiovascular system in shape. Once your heart and lung health improve, you have more energy to work.

Skincare

woman doing her skincare

Never skip cleansing

Despite how sleepy you feel after a shift, never forget to cleanse in the morning. A dermatologist in Murray shares that exfoliation draws congestion away from the pores, decreasing acne breakouts. An effective exfoliant and toner duo refreshes your skin and eliminates the dirt and makeup from the night before.

Invest in Eye Cream

Staying up all night can give you dark circles and puffy eyes. Eye creams are formulated to protect and rejuvenate the delicate skin around your eyes. They also reduce signs of aging including fine lines and wrinkles.

To reduce the unhealthy side effects of night shifts, major lifestyle changes must be made. These often require the understanding and support of your family and friends. The hours can be tough, but with discipline and balance, working the night shift can lead to a fruitful career as well as a healthy mind and body.

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