Even the thought of working the graveyard shift is something many of us wince at! How do you stay motivated when everything is dark, no one is awake, and your body thinks it should be dead asleep? It sounds all to hard, but in reality, night shifts are vital for society and are growing in both popularity and demand across the globe. This post will give you 6 tips for staying energised and positive throughout the night shift so you can maintain optimal performance at work and at home.
Benefits of working the night shift
Before we get into that though, lets round off on some reasons why people choose to work the night shift.
- Higher pay for the night shifts can bring a significant rise to your pay check
- More family time as your time off is during the busy family periods of the day
- Some work because of a sense of duty, especially in health care environments where night shift is vital
- Some enjoy the peaceful and relaxed environment, as staffing is often reduced at night
6 tips to stay energised and positive on the night shift
1. Keep a rigid sleep schedule
This is possibly the most challenging aspect of working night shift. When you’re meant to be sleeping after a tough night’s work everyone else is in the heat of their day, chatting, going out for lunch, walking the dog and drinking a pint or two at the bar. While you mustn’t starve yourself of these pleasures, its important not to ‘burn both ends of the candle’ by starving yourself of rest. Stick religiously to whatever sleep schedule or pattern works for you.
2. Optimize your sleep time
When you are resting, it’s important to mimic ‘real’ night time. The level and brightness of lighting is a vital aspect of managing night shift. Your brain is naturally wired to think light means it’s time to work and darkness means it’s time to rest. You must ‘fool’ your brain to think otherwise – have a steady source of light nearby during the night and try to darken your room as much as possible during the night. Wear a sleep mask to stop your eyes from sensing light and ear plugs to help keep daytime noises out. Some night shift workers also like to use a white noise app, which also reduces distracting noises around your home.
3. Eat well
Your body needs fuel to operate effectively and this is especially true during the graveyard shift. Eat a decent, low sugar breakfast before work and then snack regularly on fresh or natural healthy foods such as raw salad, fruit or nuts. While sugar laden comfort food such as chocolate is extremely temping in the dead of the night when your energy levels are low, they can cause a ‘sugar crash’, where your energy levels peak after the snack, but soon plummet again, leaving you feeling worse than before.
4. Stay hydrated and be wary of caffeine
Staying hydrated throughout your shift is vital to avoid getting headaches or fatigued. While caffeine can help you stay alert during the shift, avoid drinking any within two hours of your knock-off as it could stop you from falling asleep. Likewise, try not drink water an hour or so before the end of your shift as toilet runs will interrupt your sleep.
5. Stay busy during the night
Traditionally night shifts involve low pressure tasks and can sometimes be quite boring. Try to take on more responsibility if you’re short of things to do or take a Sudoku puzzle to keep your mind busy on the slow nights. That way you’re tired and ready for bed when the shift ends.
6. Exercise regularly and stretch during your shift
Staying fit outside of your shifts is great for your physical and mental well being and will help you avoid fatigue at work. Similarly, staying active during your breaks through the shift will effectively reboot your energy levels.