Shift work can be difficult. Unusual sleep schedules and the required lifestyle changes for workers asked to pull the “graveyard” shift can be taxing on you and your family. But there are benefits to taking the late shift as well, from financial incentives to more free time during the day. That said, it’s important not to take the challenges of working the third shift lightly. Here are four things you can do to help make it through the night.
Plan for a Shift in Sleep Habits
The obvious change to your lifestyle due to working graveyard will be to your sleep timings. Plan for it and be strict with yourself, otherwise risk burnout on the job. It can be difficult to make sure you’re getting the sleep you need during the daytime when everyone else is going about their usual routine. It takes discipline, but with the proper planning and acknowledgment that this is to be your new routine, you can make sure you are balancing both your work and your rest needs as well.
Take Extra Care with Food and Wellness
Especially in the beginning, it can be very difficult to take care of yourself when trying to find the right balance between working the third shift and maintaining a proper sense of wellness. Nutrition plays a big role, as does exercise. Make sure you eat a full meal before your shift and bring snacks to keep your energy up throughout the night. There’s a good chance that you’ll have trouble finding a good meal during the long evening hours, to pack a good “lunch” for yourself.
Also, make good choices in the food choices you make. A meal heavy in carbohydrates can slow you down midway through your shift, but eating small, protein-rich snacks every few hours will help you keep up your metabolism and also help keep you on your feet. Exercise can also be a challenge if you find yourself needing to choose between sleep and a trip to the gym. But make sure you remember that physical fitness is an important part of keeping yourself healthy and able on the job.
Focus on High-Value Social Interactions
Understandably, it can be difficult to maintain strong social connections when you are regularly working the night shift. But those interactions are still an important part of your health and wellness and shouldn’t fall completely out of your schedule. It can be tempting to cut short your sleep time to spend some extra time with friends, but doing so risks important sleep opportunities. Focus instead on the most high-value social interactions you have in your life. Spend the time you need with your family, with your kids, with your closest and most supportive friends. Make sure you are getting the value you need from spending time with people because you need to remember that getting the sleep you need during the day will be what keeps you on the right track when you work the graveyard shift.
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