Working at night is commonplace these days, because the night shift is mandatory or many people want to choose this time to feel quieter and more focused. However, this goes against the normal circadian rhythm, it can have an adverse effect on health. So if you often work at night, what should you do to keep your body and mind healthy?
Wake up and sleep at a regular time frame
Maintaining a regular routine of waking and sleeping every day is very important, even on days off. This can help you avoid shift work sleep disturbances, a common problem that can cause insomnia or excessive sleepiness in night shift workers.
Our body’s circadian rhythm works on a 24-hour cycle, creating feelings of sleepiness and waking up at the same time every day. There are many factors that influence circadian rhythms, one important being exposure to sunlight to keep the body’s cycle akin to nature’s day-night cycle.
If the circadian rhythm is disturbed a few times then only mild effects, such as disrupted sleep and daytime fatigue. But if it persists, it can put you at risk for serious problems like type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, impaired immune function, decreased cognitive ability, weight gain and premature aging.
If you want to return to your normal routine after the last night shift of the week, here’s how:
- Go to bed that morning, wake up in the early afternoon and work until your usual bedtime at night.
- During the weekend, take a nap to fully reset your body
- Stay up late last night and then took a nap to prepare for the new week’s night shift.
Create the right environment for sleep
You should let your friends and family know your work and bedtime so they don’t disturb you. For family members or roommates, ask them to limit activities that make noise while you sleep, such as vacuuming, washing dishes, or turning the TV on too loud. Set your phone to “Do Not Disturb” mode to not show new emails, texts, calls while you are sleeping.
However, you should also find opportunities to spend time with your family, such as a meal of the day at an appropriate time to maintain affection and cohesion, to help you feel better.
Eat healthy and on time
Many shift workers have inconsistent and bad eating habits, which can result in stomach issues. Eating well is critical for overall health and the body’s circadian rhythm.
Maintain three main meals each day, spaced equally throughout the waking hours. If you’re hungry in between meals, try a fruit smoothie or apple slices with peanut butter.
Schedule your first meal within 1 hour of waking up, then meals and snacks about 3-4 hours apart, which is 3 to 6 meals a day. For example, if your work hours are 11 p.m to 7 a.m, then go to bed and wake up at 5 p.m, your meal times might look like this:
- 5-6 p.m: first main meal (dinner with family)
- 9 p.m: snack
- 3 a.m: second main meal
- 7 a.m: 3rd main meal
In terms of food choices, avoid processed and fast foods and go for natural meats and fish, high-fiber carbs, and good sources of fat. Do not eat much within 2-3 hours before going to bed and limit caffeine, alcohol and tobacco. Caffeine can stay in the body for up to 8 hours, so avoid coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages from mid-shift onward.
One problem with working at night was finding healthy food, because supermarkets were closed at that time and only vending machines, pizzerias and fast foods were still open. Therefore, the best way is to prepare food at home, which is both cost-effective, healthy and not too difficult.
A short nap to restore energy when working at night
A short nap is one way to make up for a lack of sleep, as statistics show that when working at night, workers usually sleep 2-4 hours less than the average person every day. Prolonged lack of sleep can lead to problems such as headaches, bad mood, difficulty concentrating, reduced reaction speed, which in turn affects work such as more sick leave, more accidents and accidents. productivity reduction.
So take a nap right before it’s time for work. Short naps have been shown to improve alertness in night shift workers. According to the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center, a 90-minute nap seems to be best.
To create the most effective sleep conditions, make sure your room is cool, quiet, and dark by using window blinds, eye shields, and earplugs to help you fall asleep quickly.
Avoid stress when working at night
From money to family and relationships, we all confront stress in our daily lives. Prolonged stress can have serious health consequences, such as depression, a weakened immune system, and even an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
It is important to recognize the stressors in your life in order to find ways to deal with them. Working at night is also more prone to stress because there is less time to see friends and family due to different working hours. When faced with stress, many people turn to stimulants to relieve sadness. While these substances can help calm the mind in the short term, in the long run they make stress and anxiety worse. Therefore, it is best not to use it at all.
Get into the habit of breathing properly to ease tension. Deep, slow breathing can help you lower your blood pressure, heart rate, and stress levels. In addition, other simple ways can be applied such as listening to music, going for a walk outside, practicing meditation and journaling.
When working at night, try to arrange exercise in your own time, be it before or after work. There are different opinions about when is the best time to exercise, but the truth is that exercise is always good. The same goes for night shift workers. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) helps to achieve health benefits while saving a lot of time. You can do HIIT at home or in the gym. Just maintain regular exercise within a few weeks, you will see your body change markedly.
Working at night is more and more popular in society and is also the choice of many people. However, living activities contrary to the natural cycle of the body will affect health. So if you are a person who often works at night, then apply the above things to stay healthy for a long time.
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