Millions of years of evolution have made sure your body is set to a certain rhythm. This rhythm, known as the circadian rhythm, is related to how your body functions at different times of the day. The circadian rhythm is directed by environmental cues such as sunlight, darkness, and temperature. When you work in shifts during nights, this rhythm is disrupted which can greatly affect your health over time. Here are a few simple ways you can maintain your health if you work night shifts.
1. Watch Your Food Intake
Working in night shifts turns your entire schedule topsy-turvy. When you’re up all night working, it can be tempting to keep snacking on junk food like chips or candy. Try to stay healthy by resisting these temptations and stick to wholesome foods and balanced meals. A good way to stay on track is to pack your meals at home and also carry some healthy snacks like nuts and seeds to munch
2. Schedule Your Meals
What you eat is definitely important but when you eat also has a role to play. A good rule to follow is to eat your breakfast within an hour of waking and dinner at least 3 hours before bed. As an overnight worker, you may have breakfast at 2 p.m., lunch at 7 p.m., and dinner at 2 a.m. Have some healthy snacks in between meals. Keeping the above-mentioned rule in mind, figure out your own meal schedule and follow it every day, even on days you’re not working.
Since you finish work in the wee hours of the morning, you might feel like grabbing a greasy burger for breakfast but these are pangs you need to work at avoiding. Not only will it pile on hundreds of excess calories, but it will also interfere with your sleep and slow
3. Schedule Your Sleep
Sleep is an area of major concern for people who work in the night. Though you need to sleep through most of the day, make sure you get 7 to 8 hours of sleep at the same time every day. Even on your days off, stick to this sleeping time so that your body is on the same sleep cycle. If you follow this routine, you may end up missing social events and other engagements that go on during the day but this is the key to staying healthy. So try and schedule your personal engagements in a way that does not require you to skimp on your sleep time.
4. Make An Exercise Plan
Here’s one area where you’re at an advantage. Because most people work during the day, gyms tend to be less crowded. Once again, the idea is to exercise at about the same time each day. If you prefer to exercise after your working hours, workout in at least a couple of hours before bed. This will help you get a good night’s sleep. The main reason for ending your workout a few hours before bed is exercise raises endorphin levels which make you feel pumped up. This can interfere with the quality of your sleep.
5. Don’t Forget To Relax
No matter what your work hours are, you must always set aside some time to relax your mind and body. The definition of relaxation is different for different people. Whether it is meditating, doing yoga, or just reading a book with some hot chocolate, make sure you add some relaxing activity to your calendar every day.