Night shifts can be more tiring than thought. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more Americans are working in the evening, night or irregular shifts than normal shifts. Out of this rising number of people, maximum people are not able to cope up with this irregular shift. This is because our human body is used to the day-night pattern and when we try to reverse this pattern, our body reacts to it differently. The change is pattern can result in sleeping disorder, fatigue, insomnia, ulcer and even a certain type of cancers. Night shifts, known as ‘graveyard shift’, are also classified as ‘a probable carcinogen’ by the World Health Organization and American Cancer Society. This means, the women working in night shift has a greater chance of breast cancer and men of prostate cancer if they are working for long years. Researchers also found out that people working in night shifts have more chance to gain weight than the people working in day shifts.
Following are some health tips which may help you minimize the effects of graveyard shifts.
- Be Consistent: It is found that the more often you change your shift they quicker you would trouble your body cycle. To be precise, if one day you work in the morning shift and then next day in afternoon shift and later day at night shift then your body would not get used to the changing pattern and would trouble you. It is advisable to be consistent in your shift. If you are working in night shift then work in that shift for longer time so that your body don’t have to go through change every day or at short intervals.
- A Proper Nap Before Work: People who are working at day shift gets enough time sleep. They wake up and go to the work place and then after coming back spend some time before going to bed. But this is not the case with night shifters. They hit the bed as soon as they land home and then get up long hours before they leave for work. Due to this, they are awake more than the people working in day shift. To avoid this, they should take at least five hours of sleep as they reach home and then get up during the day. And before leaving for work, should take a nap of at least two hours. By doing this, they are close to the standing sleeping hours required by our body and they won’t feel fatigue or sleepy during work.
- No Caffeine: It is often said that coffee helps you keep awake during work. Lesser we are aware about the side-effects of coffee on people who work at night. In a study done, it was found that people who consumed caffeine on a daily basis have poor sleep quality. This means, even if you have taken coffee three hours before you reach home, your sleep quality is being affected. So, to have a better sleep quality, avoid caffeine as much as you can.
- Avoid Melatonin: It is advisable to avoid taking this drug until and unless it is prescribed by the doctor. You might take it thinking it would help you but on the other hand it could wrench your smooth circadian system.
- Manage The Lights: It was found that despite the night shifts we can have a nice sleep by managing the light. When you return back from work place and want to hit the bed make sure that you have a blackout in your room. Put up a dim light in your bathroom so that when you get up between your sleep cycles you are not shocked by the bright day light. If you able to manage this, then you can have a nice sleep in the day time too.
- Take Time To Exercise: It is said that no matter what exercise can provide you energy despite the add work schedule. Take out time to work out a little. You can take staircase instead of elevator and do other such small workout to keep you fit and energetic.
Till now we have talked about the way you can have a nice sleep with least affect on your body. With this, one has to follow the nice and healthy diet to get energy and have a nice metabolism during these odd shifts.
- Add Proteins In Your Diet: Those working in night shifts are advised to incorporate protein rich food in their diet then carbohydrate foods. They can have tune, eggs, string cheese, cottage cheese, peanut butter, turkey and tofu in their diet to keep them alert and focused.
- Avoid Sugary Food: Research shows that the ability to process sugar at night declines. Due to this, it is advised to the people who work at night shift to avoid more of sugar.
- Food Isn’t An Entertainment: It was found that people working at night shifts take help of snacks to keep themselves awake. But, this is absolutely wrong. Instead of grabbing snacks to keep yourself energetic at night you can take a walk of ten minutes, stretch yourself or even can have a power nap. If you wish to keep something near you to eat while work then you should have raw vegetables like carrots, radish, celery and snow peas. These vegetables are less in carbohydrate and more in protein.
- Drink Enough Water: Drinking water is anyhow advised but those who are at night shifts should keep a bottle with them to drink water at regular interval. Dehydration of water can cause headaches and other minor problem making you shift an unpleasant experience.
- Avoid Huge Meal: We tend to take huge meal after we reach home before going to sleep. It is advised not to do that as it could lead to digestion problem as well as disrupted slumber. Your body will find it difficult to burn those calories and they can turn into fat.
Our body is used to the certain time frame and when it is changed, it does react badly. Keeping in mind the above points would help you avoiding the maximum side effects of those night shifts.