Overcoming sleep problems caused by a non-traditional work schedule can be exhausting. There are approximately 22 million Americans who work evening, rotating or on-call shifts. So when you’re making the shift change, how do you survive your very first-night shift?
Tips For Your First Night Shift
For your first night shift, you want to be prepared as much as possible. That means planning ahead of time to go into your night shift healthy, well-rested, and with a positive attitude.
First and foremost, you need to take care of yourself in order to take care of others. It starts much sooner than taking on that first night shift. Exercise and eating healthy are two huge components to keeping yourself up and at ’em, even when you’re working a day shift or different schedule. You don’t have to pass up that break room cake, but you do need to make active choices that fuel your body and keep you energized. Creating a meal plan and an exercise plan can help you manage your time, especially when you’re getting ready to switch to a night shift. Plus, when you’re switching schedules, it helps to be prepared so you aren’t running out for fast food during a break or finding no time at the end of your workweek to get a quick workout in.
Stay Active On The Job.
Because sleep is such a big component in shift changes, it can help to avoid the tedious and monotonous tasks you need to accomplish around 4 a.m. (when night shift workers tend to experience the most fatigue.) If you’re feeling a bit sleepy on the job, try some exercise. It seems like the last thing you’d want to do is pick up those running shoes when you want to pick up a pillow, but even just a small movement to get the blood pumping can help.
Drink water! We all love our caffeine, and rightfully so. You’re always on-the-go and caffeine can help you perk up on those long shifts in a pinch, but it doesn’t work forever and it only helps in moderation. Too much caffeine (yes, not just coffee but energy drinks and soda too) may lead to blood pressure spikes and an increased risk for heart attacks. So enjoy your cup of joe or your fizzy drink, but try to break the habit of pouring one after another, or cracking open that second aluminum can. Drink some water instead! Water has all sorts of health benefits and staying hydrated helps you stay alert.
One of the biggest complaints from travelers is the night shift. Maybe taking on a night shift isn’t your ideal work environment. You could go into it with a sour face and a negative demeanor, but what good will that do? You’re still there, doing your job and making things happen. Why not make the most of it? Bring a little laughter and positive energy to your fellow night shift workers. People don’t like negativity, so if you want to make friends, or honestly just avoid making enemies, focus on the good things and help each other out. After all, you’re in this together!
Create A Work-Life Balance.
It can be easy to spend your days off huddled up on your couch, relaxing. After all, working a night shift can be exhausting. But don’t forget about the other things you have going on in your life. Family and friends are important, and so is quality time for you. Make sure you give yourself opportunities to get out there to see new things and meet new people. Starting a night shift can make your schedule a little trickier than usual, but with a little planning, your social life can soar!