The night shift is always challenging and can have a dramatic effect on your overall health. Most people suffer from extreme sleep deprivation. They also don’t know how to adapt to this new change and survive and thrive while working this shift. There are definitely challenges and a need for support from those you live with. There are a few tips to get you started.
- Sunglasses are your friends. Exposure to light while driving home will stimulate your brain that it is time to stay awake, so invest in a good pair of dark sunglasses to avoid exposing yourself to too much light.
- A daylight simulation light of at least 10,000 lux will help your brain tell it’s time to wake up. An hour or two of exposure to light when you wake up does wonders for your alertness. You use it while preparing; just keep the light in your peripheral vision.
- I always kept a sign next to my doorbell warning that I was working the night shift and not to wake up unless it was an emergency and that worked fine.
- Eating is your friend and your worst enemy. When you are sleep deprived, it is difficult to make the right decisions about what to eat. You will crave more carbohydrate-rich foods because your sugar levels will spike. The jolt is what you crave. If, on the contrary, you realize and plan these cravings by taking some fruit or oatmeal, you will avoid the weight gain that is usually associated with changing to the night shift.
- It will be cold around 3am, so plan ahead and have a sweater or sweatshirt. This is part of the body’s circadian rhythm and will only be part of the experience.
- Do not sit in a dark room at night. You may get headaches from sitting in a light room, but if you are in the dark room, your body will tell that it is time to sleep and release melatonin. Light is your friend while you work at night.
- Movement is also your friend. Walk, move, jump, or squat. Anything that makes you breathe deeply and raise your heart rate will help your concentration.
As you adjust to this new shift, you will find that there are tips for creating routines, working during the shift, and how to work with your family and friends to enjoy your life.