Nearly 15 million Americans work the night shift some or all of the time, but it's easy for these workers to feel isolated and alone. There are many challenges associated with working overnight, from fighting circadian rhythms to staying healthy in a work schedule that's widely associated with increased illness. These tips for working nights can help ease your struggle and make shift work a more comfortable experience.
1. Be Careful What You Drink
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A cup of coffee might help you jump-start your work day, but you should avoid caffeinated beverages during the second half of your shift. A soda or coffee later in your shift could keep you awake when you get home. Avoid alcohol after work, which can also disrupt your sleep patterns.
2. Stick to a Schedule
Ideally, you'll work a shift with consistent scheduling. Stick to your sleep patterns every day of the week to help your body adjust to its new rhythms. If you don't want to sleep away all your daylight hours, consider a schedule with two long naps rather than a single chunk of sleep. However you organize your day, these tips for working night shift jobs will work best when you're consistent.
3. Eat Well
Don't live on fast food and vending machine fare just because you're up during unconventional hours. A healthy diet with plenty of fresh produce, whole grains, and lean meats will help you stay healthy working nights.
4. Snack Often
Eating regularly is essential for diabetics, but it can help anyone maintain steady blood sugar levels. A healthy snack every few hours will ward off the mid-work-shift slump.
5. Schedule Social Activities
Night shift workers often feel isolated from the waking world. Go out for breakfast with your coworkers after your shift, or schedule family activities for times when you're awake.
6. Light Your Workspace
Working in a dimly lit space at night will just make it harder to stay awake. Keep your workspace lit to simulate a daytime atmosphere.
7. Limit Lighting After Work
Conversely, help your body adjust to a daylight sleep schedule by limiting light in your environment when you get home. Put blackout drapes on your windows, wear sunglasses on the way home, and don't watch TV or look at your phone just before bed.
8. Deal With Noise Disturbances
Soundproof your bedroom, invest in earplugs, or play soothing background music while you're sleeping. These strategies will help block out daytime noises like lawnmowers and children so you can get plenty of sleep.
9. Battle Wakefulness
If you're lying awake after work, try getting up instead of staying there staring at the ceiling. Do something else, such as read a book, for 20 minutes to help yourself reset before trying to sleep again.
10. Seek Medical Help When Necessary
Don't hesitate to ask a doctor for help if you're having trouble adjusting to the night shift. Lack of sleep can lead to serious medical conditions. It's better to get assistance early.
If you're on the clock all night, these working night shift tips can make the difference between an ongoing struggle and long-term success. Adjust accordingly, and you can become a night shift pro.