There’s little doubt that working night shifts can be lucrative, but while they’re beneficial to your wallet, they often disrupt all of your normal routines.
Working through the night (when you’d normally be sleeping) has some serious potential impacts on your health; with these tips, however, you can minimize the side effects that come with burning the midnight oil.
watch your diet
It’s hard to overstate the importance of a proper diet. Healthy eating is critical to keeping your body in tip-top shape and your performance at work optimized. Unfortunately, while working at night, it’s far easier to become tempted by less-than-healthy food options.
One remedy is to stick to a regular meal schedule that will help your body better manage hunger cravings and keep you to that healthy diet, like eating breakfast at 9:00PM, lunch at 2:00AM, and dinner at 5:00AM.
Working night shifts, you can’t expect your normal, healthy daytime eateries to be open. You’re going to have to get in the habit of handling meals yourself if you want to eat right. Start preparing your meals at home, and doing so ahead of time so that you aren’t scrambling to find healthy options during your shift.
maintain an exercise schedule...
No matter what time of day you’re working, exercise is a great way to boost your mood and stay in shape. Exercise boosts serotonin (even following your workout), helps you maintain a healthy weight (which can compound those happiness benefits), and increases energy levels, which can make you more alert and productive while on the job.
If you’re able to get in a good workout before or after a long night shift, the benefits go even further. Exercise has been proven to improve mood and decrease levels of stress; it can also help enhance your sleep rhythms, leading to a better quality of rest. According to Psychology Today, reaping these benefits takes consistency, though, so you’ll have to set a regular workout routine and stick to it.
...and a sleep schedule too
It should come as no surprise that maintaining a regular sleep schedule will help you endure the rigors of working the night shift. This is easier said than done when you’re working nights, so we recommend two strategies to aid you in establishing your schedule.
The first is to try sleep anchoring. The process involves overlapping at least 4 hours of sleep during the same timeframe on your work days and your off days. Doing so, says Sleep Review, provides a “guidepost” for your body clock, which in turn results in more regular and restful sleep when working nights. For example, if you frequently sleep between 8:00AM and 4:00PM on work days, try to sleep from 5:00AM to 1:00PM on the days when you're off.
Second, you should try making behavioral changes that can help you sleep better before you reach for aids like sleeping pills. Start incorporating blackout curtains, sleep masks, or noise machines into your sleep routine, and see if these can help you fall asleep in a more natural manner.
Set yourself up for success
If you’re stressed out, it’s likely you’re having trouble getting to bed. Set yourself up for sleep success by doing whatever you can to mitigate the effects of stress on your body. Don’t sweat the small stuff, acknowledge that there are some things you can’t control (like your work environment), and try new habits, like meditation, that can put your mind and body on a more peaceful plane.
There’s a lot to know when it comes to healthcare travel, just like there are many tips for night shift healthcare workers. Be sure to check out our Healthcare Travel Guide to learn more about the intricacies of working as a traveling medical professional, and peruse our job search page for your next assignment.