While working in the medical field, there may be times where you’re scheduled to work a night shift. Whether that’s what you prefer or are covering for a coworker, everyone is bound to work nights at some point in their career. Working at night can be challenging for just about everyone, no matter your sleep schedule. Night shifts often mean that less staff is in the hospital and spirits aren’t too high since many patients are sleeping. Here are some tips to help you battle against the darkness while working on a night shift schedule.
Most humans have a circadian rhythm that tells them to sleep when it is dark out. Some individuals have a rhythm that makes it easy to stay up all night, but many newcomers may become sleep deprived fairly quickly. You must learn how to manage your sleep during the day to get the hang of things. The average adult gets between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a day. Since you’ll be sleeping during the day, your sleep will be a bit different. If you are light-sensitive, invest in heavy curtains to aid you in simulating night. Light in your room may signal your body to sleep less deeply or to wake sooner than needed. Also, do not hold off on going to sleep once you get home. Falling into daytime tasks will only make your body feel like it has enough energy to stay up when it doesn’t.
Watching your Diet
Once you change your daily routine, your metabolism will change as well. People who work night shifts are likely to become overweight and may experience the metabolic syndrome. Consider prepping meals that are full of foods that will help you stay more alert. Avoid the foods that can make you sleepy, even during the day. Try to find an eating pattern that is similar to your one before. This might mean that you can eat at the same time but with just light meals and healthy snacks. Foods such as pasta, dairy products, salad, fruits, and vegetables are easy for your body to digest. If you get tired and want a boost of energy, don’t look to sugary snacks. Fruits such as strawberries and blueberries contain healthy sugars that will help you get by. Remember to drink water as much as possible to help with your physical and mental health.
It’s common for workers to drink coffee at the beginning of their shifts, but research shows that caffeine use should stop at least 6 hours before your bedtime. Since caffeine is a stimulant, it can affect your sleep, leading you to miss out on your necessary hours. While starting night shifts, consider trying out some techniques to help you balance your caffeine intake during new hours. The last thing you should need is to be overusing it and not getting proper rest.