How to Survive the Third Shift
Although working overnights can be useful for individuals who need time during the day for other commitments or are looking to gain valuable experience, the third shift can be physically and mentally demanding.
The initial adjustment period can be rough, and even after you get used to sleeping during the day, daytime obligations and events can often throw off your unnatural sleep schedule.
If you’ve already committed to working the third shift, or considering picking it up, consider the following tips to managing the unnatural lifestyle.
Get your sleep
There’s no way to overstate this point: You need to get your sleep if you are going to work third shift.
Getting proper sleep isn’t just a good habit; it’s a matter of life and death. Research has shown not getting enough sleep is connected to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, weight gain, metabolic disorder and depression.
Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule and avoid letting personal life activities get in the way of your all-important sleep schedule.
Going against your body’s natural circadian rhythms can also have an impact on your diet. Typically, people crave rich, sugary foods that can provide a rush of endorphins and temporary energy. In addition to setting you up for a crash after the initial rush, eating these foods can also result in weight gain, further exacerbating the negative impacts of sleep loss.
Bring healthy snacks to your overnight shift. Eating these snacks early in your shift will not only keep you from raiding the vending machine, they’ll also keep you from getting too hungry and feasting on a big meal, which will end up making you sleepy before your shift is over.
Also, avoid drinking cola or sugary energy drinks to keep you up. These drinks won’t keep you going for your whole shift and the massive amount of sugar they contain is bad for your teeth and overall health.
Get regular exercise
If you haven’t noticed, there’s a theme emerging here: Working overnights is stressful on your body; and therefore, you need to embrace a healthy lifestyle.
Part of any healthy lifestyle is regular exercise. Exercise can help relieve stress, which reduces the amount of unhealthy stress hormones floating around your body. Getting exercise during the day can also expose you to daylight, which causes the production of essential vitamin D.
Pay attention to your body
If you’re getting particularly error-prone, nodding off during your commute, experiencing difficulty sleeping, feeling unusually anxious, gaining weight or feeling depressed, check in with your physician to discuss your sleep schedule and techniques for relieving the stress of night work, like prescription medicines or melatonin supplements. They may also check for other problems, like sleep apnea.
At LTI, we regularly counsel with third shift workers to help them succeed at their jobs. If you are considering picking up work on the third shift, check out our job board today.