Every so often you will hear me moaning (sorry about that) about having to work nights. With my current job I have to do a week of them every couple of months. This has been the case for the past two years and will be for the foreseeable future. Nights are not something I enjoy at all, despite being quite good at shifting to sleeping in the day. I find these changes have a negative affect on my mood; it is a bit like having another bout of PMS, what joy! There are a few things which I’ve found to improve the shift…mainly food intake and taking breaks! Below is a basic timetable for when I’m on nights, along with some tips for getting through the shift.
1900 – Wake up
This is my morning, I shower, dress and get everything ready for my shift, including a lunch.
1930 – Eat
I always eat a large meal before starting my night shift, its my main meal.
2000 – Leave for work
2030 – Start work
Usually the work load is pretty intense. I eat and drink when I can, hopefully getting a ‘lunch break’ sometime around 2am.
0900 – Finish work
I immediately head home, eat breakfast and get ready for bed.
1000 – Get into bed.
Generally I read for a bit to unwind before falling asleep.
MY TOP TIPS
- Gradually adjust your sleeping pattern. Generally I stay up really late the night before the shift, then I sleep in as late as I can the day of my first shift. On the day I finish nights I have a short nap when I get home. I tend to feel really groggy when trying to shift my pattern back to days, it’s like being jet lagged.
- Get whoever your living with onside. Explain that you will be trying to sleep in the day, if they are conscientious it can make a huge difference!
- Block as much light out of your bed room as possible. Get blackout blinds, hang blankets over the curtains etc. Invest in an eye-mask and earplugs. Heaven forbid your sleep is interrupted by a jolly neighbour mowing the grass!
- Do not try to be productive in the day. Think of the day like your night and concentrate on sleep. Don’t let others think that you are ‘free’ in the day either. If working in the day would you be free at 2am? No.
- Don’t panic if your not sleeping for long enough. Your sleep will probably be more disjointed, certainly for the first few days. If you can’t sleep well just try and rest.
- Make your first meal a big one. When I wake up it is dinner time, so I have dinner as my first meal of the day. This may feel odd, but it will set you up for the evening well. It also means that if you get stuck without a break you won’t starve!
- Bring a variety of snacks. I get the oddest cravings on nights, so always have a few snacks at the ready. I make them healthy, giving me no choice but the healthy option.
- Make sure you eat enough and drink enough on shift, even if you don’t feel like it.
- No caffeine after 5am. Some friends who have a long drive after the shift rely on the caffeine burst to get home, I find having it later stops me sleeping well.
- Don’t nap on the night shift. Some people swear by it, I find it stops me getting a good sleep once my shift finishes.
- Limit the amount of day light your exposed to on the way home. I have been known to wear sunglasses. Trust me it helps, it also makes you look like a film star so…
- Eat something before going to bed. This stops me being woken by hunger, which is as horrible as it sounds.
Anyone else have to work the night shift? Any other tips?