Moving to the night shift represents a potentially difficult transition. In the abstract, eight hours might seem like eight hours, whenever they take place during a 24-hour period. But that’s not how most people are wired.
Most people have a natural tendency to perform tasks during the daylight hours and sleep when it’s dark out – that’s probably not shocking information. Reversing those situations can lead to significant problems if you don’t prepare sufficiently.
Working a night shift when you’re unaccustomed to the schedule can diminish your ability to make good decisions. This can hurt your work performance, cutting into your ability to earn raises and promotions. Meanwhile, it can represent a safety risk as well, leaving you open to potentially dangerous mistakes.
However, there are steps you can take to ease the transition. Here are some precautions you can take to make sure the night shift doesn’t affect your decision making:
Good nutrition helps keep your body going. It may be tempting to rely on sugar and caffeine for a quick jolt of energy to fight off fatigue. However, this only provides a temporary, and potentially damaging, solution.
Proper nutrition, based on lean proteins and complex carbohydrates, will give you longer-burning energy that can keep you going all night.
Eating right is step one. Eating often can provide a useful step two. Instead of eating one big meal in the middle of your shift, try the grazing method: smaller snacks, eaten more often.
It will help you avoid that logy, overfed feeling just after a big mid-shift meal. It will also spread out the jolts of calories so that you can eliminate the draggy, tired, hungry times of lowest energy.
Don’t Show Up Tired
Difficult as it may be, make sure you get plenty of sleep before you head for work. If you start a night shift yawning and fighting to keep your eyelids open, you’re going to have a tough time powering through the next eight hours.
Exercise Before Your Shift
Getting in a workout before a traditional day shift is tough. It involves dragging yourself out of bed at a ridiculous pre-dawn hour.
But one of the advantages of a night shift comes from the fact that the pre-work period coincides with a timeframe much friendlier to a pre-shift workout. Exercise can energize the body and make sure that you show up to work upbeat and ready to go.
Keep Active at Work
Try not to let your energy level sag. Keep moving as much as possible.
If your job is more sedentary, schedule some regular mini-workouts…nothing extensive, just a moment or two every hour where you can stretch or walk around a little. The goal is to keep the blood pumping and your energy high.
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