Tips for Night Shift Workers to Stay Fit

doctor working late


Some professionals are required to work night shifts, such as nurses, security guards, hoteliers, and other positions needing an assigned worker 24/7. If your current job involves having this shift, then you’re probably familiar with the struggle of maintaining a healthy lifestyle despite your unlikely schedule.

Everyone knows the greatest challenge while working during the night shift is the struggle of staying awake. That’s because your body is naturally designed to be active during the day and asleep during the night. Your body follows a natural circadian rhythm, which is the sleep-wake cycle. It can easily get disrupted, especially if you frequently work on night shifts.

Several body functions are regulated by your circadian system, such as your heart rate, digestive system, and body temperature. Once your circadian rhythm is out of sync, it can lead to various health conditions, such as heart disease or weight gain. Thus, night shift workers are at risk of possible health issues, which is why some people couldn’t last longer with their jobs and decide to resign.

Fortunately, you don’t have to transfer to another job position so you can finally start your healthy lifestyle and stay fit. There are ways that you can follow for your body to adjust and eventually maintain fitness.

Five Essential Ways Night Shift Workers Can Stay Fit

Here are the essential ways night shift workers can do to stay fit…

Maintain good sleep hygiene

As a night shift worker, it’s evident that you won’t be getting any sleep at night. Despite that, it’s very important that you still maintain good sleep hygiene. Get as much sleep as you can during the day. However, most night shift workers find it hard to sleep during the day, resulting in developed sleep disorders or sleep deprivation.

To avoid this, make sure your bedroom is sleep-conducive. You can recreate a nighttime atmosphere in your space so you can easily sleep. Then, avoid using your phones while in bed as the blue light will only keep you awake. It’s also best if you use an eye mask and earplugs so you can sleep faster even when the surrounding is noisy.

Eat healthy

Instead of taking out food from the nearest store, it’s best recommended that you create or follow a diet plan for night shift workers. In order for you to have full control of your diet, you must be the one to prepare your food. It’s cost-effective, and it’s the healthier option, too.

For your lunch, you can go with vegetables and some protein. For your snacks, go for fruits and a high-protein energy bar, instead of sugary ones or biscuits that can only disrupt your healthy diet. Eating healthy snacks every few hours can keep your metabolism thriving, making you feel full without overeating.

It’s also recommended that you eat in smaller servings frequently to keep your energy high and steady all day. You can also maintain Vitamin D supplements since working at night reduces your sun exposure, leading to vitamin deficiency.

Stick to a schedule

Start an eating schedule that works for you, and make sure to stick to it. Remember that your digestion will slow down during the night as it prepares itself for rest and sleep. That’s why it’s not recommended for everyone to eat heavily at night, most especially during midnight, as your digestive system can’t keep up with it, resulting in poor sleep and faster weight gain.

You must eat three main meals in a day, with snacks in between meals. Don’t use your night shift as a chance to eat massive amounts of food. For your guide, eat a healthy breakfast as soon as you get off work. Then, eat your lunch as soon as you wake up, and then consume your dinner before you get off to work. Then, pack healthy snacks with you to eat during your shift and help keep you energized and active for the night ahead.

Once you’ve started this schedule, make sure to stick to it every single day until it becomes your body’s regular routine. This will help your metabolism run smoothly. It may be challenging to adjust to it initially, but, eventually, this will become easier for you as this becomes a routine. 

Stay hydrated

Aside from eating healthily and on schedule, make sure that you keep yourself hydrated all the time, too. Water is the safest and most recommended solution to keep you energized and alert at night. Water also helps regulate your body temperature and keep your body organs properly functioning. Avoid drinking sodas and sugary juices at night as that will only ruin your healthy diet.

Another common drink that night shift workers tend to run to all the time is anything that has caffeine to keep them awake and productive all night. Drinking caffeine is fine, as long as you consume it at least four to five hours before your shift ends. Avoid drinking caffeine when you’re almost done with your shift. Caffeine can stay for six to seven hours in your system before it leaves, which will only make it harder for you to sleep during the day when you get home.  

Exercise as much as you can

It’s understandable how hard it may be to insert exercise into your daily schedule, especially when working night shifts. You spend the day getting enough sleep, so you may not anymore think of getting any exercise at all. Exercising regularly, regardless of what time of day, can still help improve your overall health. You can always try to fit in exercise in your night shift schedules, and make sure to stick to it.

Exercising after your shift ends may not be advisable since you’re exhausted and sleepy. Instead, you can exercise and do your workouts before you get on your shift. You don’t need to do it every day, as long as you’re getting enough exercise every week. You’d be surprised how set amounts of weekly workouts can enhance your wellbeing, boost your energy levels, and, most especially, improve your mental health.

Wrapping Up

Adjusting to night shift schedules can be very challenging at first, but once you find a healthy routine that works for you, you’ll soon be handling your night shifts like a pro. You can consult your doctor or a health adviser to help you create your night shift routine. Most importantly, don’t forget to always prioritize your health before anything else.

About Theresa Duncan

Originally from Detroit, MI, Theresa has been offering health and fitness advice for the last 30 years while working as an engineer. She decided to turn her passion into a profession, and finds nothing more satisfying than helping others reach their health and fitness goals.

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