You’ve got the graveyard shifts, so now how do you stay healthy and keep up with your fitness routine when your life is flipped on its head?! Unfortunately for night shift workers there is a disturbance to your circadian rhythm. Disruptions to this rhythm lead to changes in your sleep, metabolism, eating, exercise and sleeping habits and maintaining healthy habits is just that little bit harder. BUT IT IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE. Just because you work night shift doesn’t mean you can’t be healthy. Follow these 10 tips below be be your healthiest night shift self 😉 Not only will you see long term health benefits but you’ll find you have stacks more energy!
- Eat your main meal before start – This allows you to have a meal with the family and keeps your body in tune by having a meal at a “regular” mealtime. Choose a meal that is high in fibre, high protein and contains some complex carbohydrates. Try: homemade burrito bowls, stir fry meat/tofu with vegetables and brown rice, grilled salmon with vegetables and sweet potato chips.
- Healthy Snacks – Light snacks during the night rather than a main meal. Your bodies natural hormonal and digestive rhythm assumes you should be sleeping, so you want to avoid a big meal during the night. Take carrot, celery and capsicum sticks with hummus, unsalted nuts, greek yoghurt with berries.
- Bring your own – don’t rely on vending machines or cafeteria food. Always bring your own snacks so you don’t even have to go near the vending machine and be tempted.
- Fluids – Keep hydrated throughout the night. The first signs of dehydration can be lethargy and fatigue, what do you do to combat fatigue – reach for the sweets. Stay hydrated and avoid this vicious cycle.
- Move – If you get a break during the night, get moving, even if you just do a few laps up and down the fire escape. Keeping moving will keep you awake and active.
- Skip the sweets – Night shifts desks are notorious for bags chocolates and lollies. When you are tired, you look for a pick me up and unfortunately many go for sugar. But this decision is not your finest – the sugar will give you an immediate hit but within an hour you’ll be feeling tired again and dipping your hand in the sugar pot yet again. You need a Plan B! Keep the sweets out of sight (if possible), drink plenty of water, think about if you are truly hungry versus tired, think about your goals.
- Light breakfast after work –As soon as possible after finishing work have a light ‘breakfast’. You don’t want anything too heavy as sleep is just around the corner. Some foods are natural melatonin boosters and can help sleep, I have attached a smoothie which is high in these melatonin boosting foods PLUS is quickly digested to allow you to sleep as soon as possible.
- Limit caffeine – Yes you probably will need it at the beginning of the shift but avoid all caffeine for the 6 hours before you plan to sleep
- Sunglass – don’t walk outside without these on the morning light will release chemicals to help you wake, not what you need when you’re about to sleep
- Sleep – The most important part. As a shift worker you need quality sleep! Make your room as dark as possible, use eye masks if necessary. Absolutely no phone, ipad or tv before bed and do all in your power to minimize interruptions during your sleep.
1 tbsp oats
1 tbsp almond butter
1 cup cows milk (higher in melatonin precursors than other milks)
drizzle of honey
- Blend all ingredients together with ice if desired.
ENJOY! Marika xo