Does your job require a rotation between daytime, afternoon and night shifts?
Do you find it difficult to stay focused, awake or alert? Or are you new to working the night shift?
A nightshift can come with long periods of inactivity, making it more difficult to remain awake and alert. While many duties remain the same during day and afternoon shifts, fatigue can make the same tasks seem much harder during the night shift.
When evening falls, our bodies increase the release of the natural chemical melatonin which peaks in the middle of the night, letting us know it’s time to sleep. After decades of following our bodies’ natural direction, fighting fatigue and staying alert during the night shift can prove to be extremely difficult for most.
But did you know there are several ways you can help fight off that fatigue and stay alert while keeping yourself healthy?
Here are some tips on how to make that night shift a breeze and help fight fatigue.
1. What you eat does make a difference!
Avoid consuming high sugar and refined foods. While they seem like a good choice for that instant boost of energy, they later cause a meal-crash. Eat foods that stabilize your blood sugar levels and provide an on-going boost of energy. Bring fruits, vegetables, protein and smoothies for a snack. Eat smaller portions and space out your meals and snacks. This will not only boost your metabolism but decrease an after-meal crash.
2. Stay hydrated
Water consumption is essential to life. So why not make it an essential part of your night shift? Drinking water not only hydrates the body but it has a major effect on energy and brain function. Water can help increase the oxygenation of your blood level that may increase alertness and help you stay awake.
We all love a good ‘cup of joe’. While coffee, tea and energy drinks alike are great at providing an instant boost, they can also make you crash harder and faster, making you more fatigued.
Avoid excessive consumption of these beverages all night long as they can play havoc on your body and negatively impact your body’s ability to get a good night’s rest. Try not to consume any caffeinated beverages at least 4 hours prior to the end of your shift, so when you get home, you can get a good night’s rest.
4. Stay busy all night. Keep your body and mind stimulated.
It may be a slower night but keeping yourself busy is imperative to fighting fatigue. Bring something to keep your mind occupied during the slower periods that is easy to set aside should you need to drop it immediately to attend to an emergency. In addition to keeping your mind stimulated, be sure to keep your body moving. Doing light exercises or stretching will keep the blood pumping and increase your alertness. It’s also not a bad time to clean and declutter your work surface.
5. Keep the same schedule
While you occasionally may need to interrupt your sleep for an important activity, your best strategy is to maintain a constant sleep pattern. Whether you prefer to go directly to bed when you get home or stay awake for a while, follow that schedule. Make your room as dark as you can, use a night mask if need be to recreate a dark setting to ensure you get a good night’s rest.
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