First and foremost, for anyone out there working the night shift, I want to extend a huge THANK YOU for staying awake and keeping us safe. Whether you are a dispatcher, supervisor, firefighter, police officer, nurse, etc., we all know how difficult of an adjustment working odd hours is to overcome. If you find yourself losing focus, counting down the minutes until you can go home, and/or becoming delirious, you may need to adjust your approach. Sleep, nutrition, and planning are essential for keeping your mind and body alert and focused for the workplace. Here are some energy and survival tips for those of you working the night shift:
Perfect Your Sleep Routine
Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is critical. Make sure your body is getting at least 6-8 hours of sleep prior to working an overnight shift. Many studies suggest that you should avoid having a TV in the bedroom, as it can distract you from going to sleep at a reasonable hour. You can also try turning off your phone, hanging up blackout curtains, and if you are into it, using aromatherapy oils. If deep sleep at first is an issue, try taking 30 min naps before your shift begins. Short periods of rest will help keep your energy high.
Eat Small, HEALTHY Portions
A giant meal during the work day or night can put us all in a food coma. Eat light, and eat healthy. Trust me when I say that I love snacks, but not all of the snacks I like are good for me. This is where planning and self-motivation come into play. Peanut butter, fruit, smoothies, hummus, veggies, yogurt, shakes, protein bars, etc. are all healthy snacks I suggest. Avoid going to bed on an empty stomach as well. If you don’t feel like eating, try a glass of milk; this promotes sleep. I also practiced Weight Watchers while I was on night shift duty so that I could measure out portions and stick to a plan. It really helped!
Monitor Your Caffeine Intake
Drink water. Drink water. Drink water. Hydration is so important!
It’s easy to overdo the caffeine. I would go to Sam’s Club or Costco and buy as much Monster and Red Bull in bulk as I possibly could. I hate the taste of coffee and was super jealous of how coffee was everywhere for everyone. Anyone who didn’t drink it was out of luck. If you require a caffeinated beverage, it is better to drink it at the beginning of your shift rather than later. This seems strange because towards the end of the shift is when we feel like we need it the most.
You can also try eliminating any carbonated drinks as well as coffee, and replace those with tea and water with lemon (or other fruits). This took me weeks before my body could adapt to life without the Monster and soda drinks. However, I feel 100% more energized, and my skin looks better as well; my dark circles have improved!
Pay Attention to Your Personal and Work Hygiene
Employees who practice daily hygiene are 85% more cognizant of their workplace hygiene. When you have downtime at work, don’t just sit there. Stand up, clean, and stretch. Keeping your body moving will keep blood flowing and help the mind stay awake.
Fit In a Workout
Hitting the gym is likely the last thing you want to do after a night without sleep. Instead, try exercising at least every other day AFTER sleep. Fitting fitness into your routine may help you sleep better overall, as studies suggest working out allows for a deeper, longer sleep. Don’t forget to get your 30 min of daily exercise!
Hopefully these tips give you a boost if you are struggling to stay alert during your night shift. At the end (or beginning) of the day, don’t forget to take care of YOU. Sleep long, eat healthy, and prosper; your work and personal life will be much better off!