Nearly 27% of Americans work night shifts. That’s a quarter of our population! So whether you are a night shift veteran or just switching to the late night hours, here are some things that can make your night’s work a little bit smoother.
1. A Good Night’s Sleep
You may be going to sleep well after sunrise, but all the basic principles of being well rested are the same. Do your best to keep your sleep cycle during the same hours even if you have a night or a few nights off. When you do sleep, black out your room as much as possible. Light is more disruptive to sleep than sound! It also needs to be as quiet as possible, so you may want to invest in a sound machine to block out the noises of the day.
2. Wake Up Right
Stop hitting that snooze button! When you set an alarm, make sure it is early enough for you to have a leisurely morning and avoid all chaos. When you keep hitting snooze, you cause an imbalance to your REM cycle making yourself sleepy throughout your shift. When you wake up in a rush, your body releases all of your daily amount of cortisol in the panic. A peaceful morning ensures your body gives you a small dose of cortisol and saves the rest of this natural pick-me-up to be time-released through your waking hours.
3. A Healthy Lifestyle
This means diet and exercise! Being physically fit will make life in general a bit easier, but when the stress of the night shift hits your body, being healthy will make it a whole lot smoother. Try to exercise when you wake up or right before your shift. Movement releases endorphins and adrenaline giving you a natural boost.
4. The Right Lunch
Your lunch break may be at 1 in the morning, but the quality of your meal still matters. In fact, it may matter just a little bit more. Food is fuel, and the better the fuel, the more power you have to make it through the night. Try to avoid empty carbs, high sugars, heavy dairy and large meals that may make you sluggish. It’s better to base your meals around whole grains, nuts and seeds, fruits, vegetables, beans and lean meats like fish or chicken.
5. An Aptly Timed Snack
Food may be fuel, but that fuel doesn’t last more than 3 to 4 hours maximum. If you ate lunch at 1 a.m., then have a power boosting snack around 3:30 or 4 o’clock. This still doesn’t mean a bag of chips. Try a peanut butter, honey and banana, pita or apple slices, granola and yogurt.
6. Time Management
Working overnight can make you cram in a lot of things right before you go to sleep, like last minute errands, writing that to do list and prepping meals and snacks for your next shift. You need your mind to wind down before sleep, not get stressed over all the things that need to get done. Try to do as much as you can during your shift breaks, so when you get off work, you can relax and go to bed.
7. Avoid the Screen
Light is meant to stimulate the brain and wake us up. The light produced from electronics, be it TV, laptop, tablet or cell phone, has proven over and over to affect our sleep. If you must check your social media before going to bed, try installing one of the many apps available that filter the light on your screen.
8. Temperature Matters
Several studies have shown that sleep is disrupted if the temperature gets warmer. Try to cool down your room an hour before you go to bed and keep it at a cooler temperature until you wake up. This will allow your body to stay in a deeper rest.
A plain and simple fact is slight dehydration causes drowsiness. Keep a thermos of cool water near you at all times. Drink regularly throughout your shift. If you’re not going to the bathroom every hour or two, you are most likely low on fluids. If you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Avoid high sugar, high chemical beverages, as they do not quench your body’s need for water.
10. Learn to Caffeinate Wisely
Did you know if you drink caffeine the moment you wake up, it can actually make you groggier? It’s better to have your first influx of caffeine a couple hours after you wake allowing your cortisone to be released and reach ideal levels. Also, you don’t want to caffeinate two to three hours before you go to sleep, allowing your adrenal glands to slow down. So the best way to hydrate and caffeinate during your shift is to drink Avitae, caffeinated water. With three levels of caffeine to choose from, getting your energy burst is a whole lot easier.