Keeping healthy is hard enough for those who are on a regular daytime schedule, but for many night shift is a harsh reality.
Night shifters across the globe lose time with family and friends, work long hard hours and try to sleep undisturbed during the day.
Keeping habits that aid one’s health makes night shift work even more of a task. When working a night shift, it’s crucial to create healthy boundaries for yourself and communicate these with friends and family.
Determining what works best for you is essential, but a few guidelines to follow will keep you healthy, and happier
1. Sleep Habits
Ensure to block out a set sleep schedule in your daily calendar, with a minimum of 7 hours of sleep time. Allow at least an hour to unwind after work.
Create a ‘nighttime’ routine after getting home from work. For instance, you might get home and help the children get off to school and then take 20 minutes for yourself, read a book or listen to relaxing music while you have a healthy snack.
Put on pajamas, brush your teeth and climb into bed. It is important not to engage in video games, telephone surfing, or watching television.
For optimal sleep, it helps to minimize blue light and to relax the brain. Creating a comfortable dark sleep environment is also essential. Purchase blackout curtains for your bedroom and make sure that these are closed before going to bed.
Ensure that the temperature is comfortable for sleeping, Sleep.org suggests that the optimal sleeping temperature is between 60- and 67-degrees Fahrenheit, as the mild drop in temperature will help induce sleep.
2. Meal Habits
Eating nourishing foods is vital to us no matter what shift we work, but it is even more essential to fuel a body that is working against the body’s natural patterns.
It’s essential to avoid all stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine and some medications for 6 hours before going to bed.
Eating a small snack before bed will help sleep, try foods with L-tryptophan in them, for instance, milk or a few small slices of turkey.
Prep meals and snacks on days of for the following week to eliminate impulse eating, and avoid trips to the office vending machine. Eat your main meal before your work shift.
Avoid high fat, sugary and fried foods. Instead choose easily digestible foods such as rice, fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed foods.
Ensure that you are staying hydrated throughout the day, drink at minimal of 2/3 of your weight. Calculating water intake is weight x 2/3 = ounces of water per day.
4. Daily Exercise
Find a 24 gym or set up a home gym, avoid hitting the gym after work but instead commit to going to the gym on the way to work, spend at least 30 minutes daily with a cardio routine and at 15 minutes lifting weights.
Working night shift will decrease the amount of time you have in the sunlight, therefore reducing the body’s ability to create Vitamin D and melatonin.
These are vital to overall health. Take a daily multivitamin that includes the daily recommended amount of Vitamin D or add a supplemental vitamin D to your multivitamin routine.
Melatonin should be taken before bed, to help increase the quality of sleep.