Shift work is notoriously difficult. Unusual sleep schedules and the lifestyle changes that are required from workers who pull the “graveyard” shift demand a great deal from your body and your work. But sometimes, working the third shift may be unavoidable. This kind of work can disrupt sleep cycles and impact your health if you’re not smart about how you do it. Here are three secrets that may help you better handle working the third shift.
Shift Your Sleep Habits Intentionally
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 day time 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 Health
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.
Make Time for Being Social
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. So instead, find a way to balance the two.
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.
Are you looking for new third shift employment opportunities?