We thank you, night owl health workers, for being our nocturnal support system. While it’s not always easy working into the wee hours of the night, your sacrifice does not go unnoticed. Not everyone is cut out for working the night shift. In fact, many of you didn’t have a choice before working at night. With the healthcare industry established as a 24/7 business, nearly 15 million people in the United States work full-time night shifts, evening shifts, rotational shifts, or other such irregular schedules. However, we think it’s important that we do everything we can to help you conquer working overnight. Whether you’re fighting just to stay awake, or struggling to get your daytime routine in order, we think it’s important that you know how to handle the graveyard shift. Below, we’re going to provide some tips for working night shift that should have you taking back control of the night. Let’s take a look!
Three Tips For Working Night Shift
1. Get Your Sleep in Order
No wonder they call the night shift “the graveyard shift.” After a few days of working at night, many workers start feeling like zombies. However, there are ways that you can make sure you’re not dragging during your late-night shift. Getting your sleeping pattern in order is one of the best tips that we can provide for working night shift. Our bodies were made to go to sleep at night. Fortunately, you can “hack” your body. You can trick it into thinking it’s time to sleep, even when it’s the daytime. For starters, invest in some curtains to block out the light in your bedroom!
You should be getting at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each day. If you’re not getting that many hours, you’ll start accumulating “sleep debt.” Sleep debt is essentially the amount of sleep you’ve missed out on. Working night shift means that you’ll want to accumulate as little sleep debt as possible. Things like avoiding screens before bed, eating or drinking something to avoid hunger pangs, and keeping your room at a comfortable temperature are all things that you can do to make sure you sleep soundlessly.
2. Caffeine Moderation
We know this is hard. Caffeine is the lifeboat coming to rescue you from the ocean of sleepiness. However, if not moderated, caffeine can take a toll on your body. Like any stimulant, an overabundance of caffeine can cause headaches, jitters, rapid heartbeat, and numerous other health issues. Caffeine withdrawal is also a major issue that many suffer from. If you become dependent on caffeine, a lack of it can also trigger numerous health issues. One of the best tips for working night shift we can give is to keep your caffeine intake in check.
3. “Lunch Breaks”
It’s a little odd eating your “lunch” at 3 in the morning. However, taking advantage of your mid-shift break can be exactly what you need to get through the rest of the day. Those early morning hours are often the toughest to push through, and getting some fuel during your break might be exactly what you need. We suggest packing a light meal. Fruits and veggies will provide the energy you need without being heavy and making you feel sluggish. Adopting a ‘grazing’ approach towards eating while working the night shift is also something you should consider. Eating lighter snacks like mixed nuts or beef jerky can give you the boost you need to get through the day. Then, you can use your mid-shift break to run errands or simply take a few moments to get off of your feet.
It can certainly be tough navigating an overnight shift. With sleep adjustments, eating habits, and managing your caffeine fix , it can make the shift especially tough. Yet, with these tips hopefully you can push through and even come to love it!
BONUS VIDEO: How to Survive the Night Shift in Healthcare
What are some of your tips for working night shift? Comment below!