8 Tips if You Work the Night Shift
Are you one of the 6 million Americans that work on the night shift? I am! My usual routine is EVERY Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights from 6:45 PM to 7:15 AM. Recently, I added a contract nursing job on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night from 10:00 PM to 6:30 AM. The contract nursing job is only temporary, and believe it or not, I actually feel better in the few weeks I have been doing it.
This brings me to this subject. How do you work night shift and maintain health? I have now researched many articles, and studies on the subject of working night shift. From these readings I have developed a list of 8 things I am going to do faithfully while I am on this schedule to maintain and improve my health.
1) Set a Sleeping Goal
Set a goal to sleep eight hours everyday. In the past, it has been easy for me to sleep only 4.5 or five hours, get up to the bathroom, and then be wide awake; only to find it is time to go back to work and I have not slept enough.
There are two habits I am forming which has transformed my life in this area. I have darkened my bedroom more than it was previously darkened. There were little cracks of light seeping through the windows, and I corrected that issue. It is now VERY dark in my room. The second thing I have done is to faithfully take melatonin as soon as I get home. I currently take 4 mg of melatonin, and this has helped the length of time I sleep, tremendously. I use a pharmaceutical grade melatonin, because I want to ensure I am taking a pure formulation. I am also considering darkening my bathroom, so I will not be exposed to the bright light when I get up for a bathroom break.
There were several articles that discussed wearing very dark sunglasses as you leave the place of employment and on the trip home. There has been research to show that once your subject your eyes to the bright morning light, this does something to you body that says “wake up”. So, this is on my to do list, and I will be purchasing this item TODAY!
3) Eat Low Ghlycemic
I already do this. HOWEVER, I was very excited to see this was suggested in several articles. One new piece of information was to have the heavy meal in the evening prior to going on the shift. Do not eat a heavy meal in the middle of the night. Do not eat a heavy breakfast. So, take small low glycemic snacks and eat every three hours. I always have a nutritional shake or bar with me during the night so that I can eat or snack quickly and ensure I am getting good nutrition. (I also lost 35 pounds eating this way). Research has shown that due to several endocrine factors, and increased insulin resistance for night workers, it is very important to learn these concepts. Look for future teleconference and classes on this subject.
4) Breakfast Before Bed
Small balanced breakfast before going to bed. Do not go to bed hungry. AND make sure you eat a meal that is balanced. Don’t just eat fruit. Also, do not eat a heavy meal. This will lay heavy on your stomach, and really make you quite uncomfortable. My favorite is to make a healthy smoothie, making sure I get healthy protein, carbohydrate and fats. A good complex carb with a high fiber content will not overwhelm your stomach, but take a while to digest, and allow you to sleep without having that “Knawing” sensation in your belly.