Night shifts bad for your health?

Night shift
Photo by Sergei Chumakov (Shutterstock).

What is worse? Waking up or going to sleep early in the morning?

Are night shifts bad for your health ?

My work schedule involves both waking up early in the morning as well as working late at night. This is my first job that requires working in shifts and to be honest I was a bit worried at first that my performance will decrease over time. That was not the case. I was and am able to fully carry out my tasks with no problems.

Night shift jobs are linked to illnesses such as obesity which lead to heart attack. The connection between working on night shift and obesity is an unhealthy diet. More so, a study in the Occupational & Environmental Medicine which looked at over 3,000 people from France shows that almost half of them  which have worked in shifts have had lower scores on memory tests, processing speed and overall brain power.

Many people report that they wake up two or more times in the middle of the night even after they stopped working night shifts. I also wake up several times a night, most of the time it is because I get a dry throat and need to drink a glass of water, but sometimes I randomly pop out of bed. Looking back in time, a year ago I do not remember waking up in the middle of the night. My overall health is pretty good and I have not gained any additional weight or lose muscle/store fat. Lately I began to feel slightly vulnerable to flues, but other then that I feel fine.

An ideal and healthy human body will perform activities during the day and rest at night. When the Sun goes down, you should also go down and wake up when the Sun rises.

How to be fully functional and prevent fatigue and health complications when working night shifts:

1. Sleep before

You should get at least three hours of sleep before your night shift. If you find it difficult to sleep in the afternoon, consider drinking a cup of Chamomile or Valerian tea. I don’t recommend buying teabags unless it is your last resort. The best way to make your tea is to gather the plants yourself and leave them to dry.

2. Exercise

Engage in daily exercise, at least 30 minutes. You can walk, cycle, lift weights, play soccer, anything which involves cardiovascular and muscle stimulation.

3. Nutrition

Avoid eating foods that are hard to digest. Fried foods, meat and dairy products are a few examples. If you have issues dealing with lactose intolerance, avoid eating ice cream. Why should you not eat foods that are hard to digest ? Because your body will focus most of the blood into the stomach area to help digest the food. As result you lack energy and feel sleepy.

4. Coffee

With coffee it is a bit tricky. If it helps you stay awake and focused then it is absolutely fine. Remember to drink plenty of water to help maintain hydration.

5. Listen to music

If possible, put on some music. Music simulates the body and the mind. Listening to the right music will have a positive impact on your performance and keep you awake all night. I like to start my night shift with some Jazz music and later on I would listen to some relaxing dubstep.

6. Take a break

If you are working in an office, take short breaks every 40 – 50 minutes to relax your eyes and clear your thoughts. Stand up, go outside for some fresh air and stretch your back and neck muscles.

These 6 tips have proven to be effective for me.. Although the best option is to avoid night shifts in the first place, if no other options are available then you should do everything you can to improve and maintain your health and overall mood.

George Cristea-Matei

Owner & writer at iArtCool. Following different paths towards the road to self-discovery. I fix stuff, phones, computers, spacecrafts & jedi light sabers.

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