How To Stay Awake When Working Night Shifts: 5 Simple, Healthy Tips
The only time when staying up all night is fun is when it’s of your volition, not when it’s a job. If you’re a firefighter, nurse, doctor or whatever else in between, working night shifts is inevitable that it’s going to require a change in lifestyle. Chugging unholy amounts of caffeine might work, but it’s unsustainable and that will lead a zombified you down a steady slope of sugar, digestive and blood pressure related diseases. You have to fight back against sleep deprivation and exhaustion in the most healthy way possible. Here’s a few tips to keep you awake during a night shift:
Your sleeping habits must change
The rule of thumb to working night shifts - switch your day with night. Attempting to be a work graveyard shifts and still be functional during the day will confuse your circadian rhythm - aka body clock- and in the long run, burn you out. You’ll want to end your night shift stints as healthy as possible, and the best way is to adapt to the demands of your job. Meaning: prioritize sleep! Because you’re working during hours when your body is used to sleeping, getting enough rest is very, very important. A few hours before the start of your work week, sleep. This should last for 2-3 hours, on top of previous night’s 8 hour sleep, and time yourself to wake up 3 hours before your shift.
Caffeine is a psychoactive stimulant that changes the natural chemistry of the brain by blocking the brain stimulant that’s associated with sleep. This results to alertness that’s helpful when you’re working nights. Matcha tea’s caffeine will substantially boost your alertness level by about 6 hours, just when your shift’s winding down and you’re near to clocking out, making it a good alternative to coffee. The edge it has over coffee is priceless: despite having less caffeine, it provides less jittery, sustained caffeine boost, with no crash at the end. What’s more, matcha tea’s caffeine has L-Theanine, an amino acid that promotes alert relaxation. By strategically spacing out your caffeine intake, you’ll get the most out of it without the pain.
Drink plenty of water
Because caffeine is not enough. You don’t want to just get through the night shift, you want to be as productive and get things done, and water will help you thrive. The feeling of wanting to pee deters you from sleeping, so your bladder makes being awake during the night easier. Also, keeping yourself hydrated with water helps to deliver more oxygen to your blood that keeps you alert and staves away sleep. Always have a bottle of water or a thermos with you before you clock in.
Keep yourself cool & don’t snuggle up
Ever wonder why you start dozing off when wrapped in a comfy blanket? Warmth is a trigger for your body to start getting you sleepy, that’s why. When you start thinking of snuggling up in a warm blanket, stop those thoughts - you might actually make yourself do it. It’s unavoidable though, nights are chilly and you’ll most likely clock in to work with a cardigan or a light sweater, because while you don’t want to feel too warm, you also don’t want to feel too cool. The coolness is also a trigger. Remember that when you sleep, you lower the aircon’s temp as you snuggle in the warm blankets? Your body will also remember this cue for you to start the sleeping process. There’s no trick to keeping the balance between hot & cold during night shifts, it’s up to you to find the sweet spot.
After shift routine matters
When you clock out, you’re tired, sleepy, and just want to crash in bed.The last thing you want is to be energize by the activity around you, so block them out. Don a pair of sunglasses, and head home as soon as possible and don’t drive if you can - there’s a serious risk of falling asleep at the wheel. Once you’ve reached home, change into comfy clothes, draw the sades, lower the temp, turn of the lights and snuggle into bed for that well-deserved 8 hours of sleep.
Don’t go past 8 hours of sleep. If you’re feeling a little sleepy, take a sip of relaxing matcha just enough to wake you, then stick to a routine. Eat, work out, relax. Your body needs regular activities, meal and sleep times to keep your rhythm going. Staying up is tough, but it’s not impossible. Sticking to a routine and following these tips will help make night shifts tolerable, even enjoyable.