Shift work. Who really likes working overnight? Most people don’t, but we do it because we have to. Plus, we get a nifty shift differential. But, on the flip side, we’re also opening ourselves up to some serious potential problems. Sleep deprivation, unbalanced circadian rhythms, and even accidents are just some of the risks. Here’s how to work that graveyard shift without turning into a zombie.

Try Resetting Your Rhythm

If you absolutely must work the night shift, try resetting your circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is the “day/night rhythm” that you body uses to wake you up and put you to sleep. Almost everyone alive today is set to wake in the morning and sleep at night.

But, some people have an uncanny ability to sleep during the day and wake up at night. These people, so-called “night owls,” have rigged their circadian rhythm so that they are not sleep deprived (not in a serious sense) so they’re able to function (almost) normally during the night.

Eat Well and Keep Moving

Diet and movement become especially important when you cannot sleep in a normal day/night pattern. In other words, if you cannot sleep at night, and be awake during the day, you absolutely must fix your diet and get regular movement into your “day.”

That may mean taking regular walks every single day, going hiking on your days off (during dusk or when it’s light out, if possible), and eating a diet comprised of non-sweet fruits, vegetables, some meats, and possibly taking antioxidant supplements. You won’t be getting much vitamin D from the sun, so you should probably look into getting a supplement and having your blood levels checked regularly.

Get Plenty Of Exercise

Going to the gym will also be important. Lifting weights will help keep your muscles strong, and your bones thick (especially if you’re doing weight-bearing exercise). As you get older, this becomes more and more important.

Get Out Of Shift Work, If You Can

Ultimately, shift work isn’t healthy, regardless of how you slice it. There’s no amount of sleep rigging, dieting, exercising, or movement that will completely erase the negatives of shift work. Some studies show that working nights throws off the body’s ability to cope with stress and puts it into a state of chaos, causing long-term damage, including increasing your risk of heart disease or of having a heart attack.

Watson Goepel, which is comprised of some of the best Vancouver personal injury lawyers, have seen the effects of shift work in their practice: auto accidents.

Unfortunately, a side effect of shift work is sleepiness. Even when you think you’re getting enough sleep, you’re most vulnerable at dawn when you get out of work, and at dusk, when you’re going in.

Dusk is when your body wants to make melatonin – a hormone that puts your body into a deep sleep. Blue light (but really any light, in general) will shut down melatonin production. Without melatonin, your body’s ability to heal from wounds is diminished. Your ability to fight infections is reduced.

You may not like it, but facts are facts. Yes, you can work the night shift and reduce some of the risks. But, you’re never going to eliminate them. It’s a cost-benefit choice each and every one of us has to make.

Author: Slumberless Team

Slumberless is a small group of people that are passionate about finding ways to have a more restful sleep every night

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