Staying Healthy Working Night Shift
Last updated: March 2022
It’s no secret, compared to working during the day, working the night shift does much more damage to the body and it's much easier to fall into an unhealthy lifestyle. On top of an awkward sleep schedule that goes against the body's natural sleep rhythm, you have to balance days off so you are awake during the day and can have some form of life.
Tips for staying healthy while working night shift with diabetes
I have a few tips that can help maintain some normalcy along with maintaining the healthiest lifestyle possible.
Maintain a consistent sleep schedule
First, you have to find a way to keep a somewhat consistent sleep schedule. Going back and forth from waking up at night on the nights you work to waking up in the morning on days off is not healthy. It is best to find a balance. Find a time you can wake up on days off that affords you a life but doesn’t stress your body trying to adjust too much multiple times a week. This can be tough, especially if you have a family, but you need to explain the importance of this for your health and work out a compromise with them.
Create a nutrition plan
Next, you need to work on a nutrition plan. It’s easy to get lazy with meal prep and cooking when you have to work at night. Coming home after a night shift is very different than coming home after a day job. Generally, you are much more tired. With a day job, you can come home and cook dinner and prepare for the next day easier than doing the same after a night shift. It is best to prep for all your work meals on your last day off. If you work more than three nights in a row, you may worry about the freshness of food if it’s prepped too far in advance. You can combat this by either freezing your prepped food or adjusting your work diet. I like to eat salads at work with protein in it. You can buy pre-made salad bags and quickly add some ingredients to them. It is about the simplest prep there is for a meal and it's very healthy.
Working out is a real challenge when working nights. Like I said, you are usually very tired when you come home and if you work 12-hour shifts, you probably sleep when you get home until you have to start getting ready. If you have trouble working out before bed because it gives you energy, that isn’t an option. If you wake up before work but get so tired by the end of the night you risk falling asleep at work or behind the wheel driving home, that isn’t an option either. So how do you fix this? One way is to stagger your workout schedule. Don’t work out all your days in a row. Another is to design a workout that is more intense on your days off. You may also have to toy with lighter exercise during workdays to see what works best for you. This is one where it is more individual preference than anything.
I hope for your sake you don’t have to work the night shift, but for those of us that do, I hope this helps gives you some ideas on how to stay healthy working the worst schedule for the human body. You can be healthy working the night shift. It just takes some commitment and a little trial and error to see what works for you.
Do you find it difficult to "eat right" and stick to a nutrition plan?