Top Advice for Coping with Night Shifts
The world is changing and the job market changing with it. As twenty-four hour living increases, so too does the demand for twenty-four hour services and therefore the requirement for staff to work these hours. Supermarkets, restaurants, call centers, repair centers, and construction services, all have increasing night shift working as do careers such as banking and law.
Coping with night shift working is different for everyone and some people never do seem able to manage but, for those that can, there are a number of growing opportunities out there for interesting and exciting careers. These tips can help make night shifts more manageable and a read through them may help you figure out whether night shift working is for you.
Preparing for Night Shift
It is vitally important that those new to this type of working prepare appropriately before the beginning of each stretch of night shifts. If you are new to shifts, one important step you can take is to talk to someone you know who already does this kind of work such as people in the emergency services or those with nursing careers who know you and will be able to guide you.
Generally speaking, however, an essential first step is scheduling time to sleep before your first shift. For some people this means sleeping until noon the night of the first shift while for other this will mean getting a nap in the evening before going out. You may have to experiment to figure out what works best for you but try not to wake in the morning on your first night without going back to bed. If you do, it is likely that you will have been awake for twenty-four hours by the time you get home and this deficit is difficult to make up.
Surviving the Shift
Night shift is a shock to the system for anyone who isn’t used to it. It is important to develop coping strategies that will help you to maintain the required level of alertness for your post, particularly if you’re working as a staff nurse, for example, where problems can arise is the final hours of your shift. If possible, you should nap on your break at work as even a brief twenty-minute nap will refresh you more than just taking a break will.
While on nights, it is important that you eat and drink normally so that you do not become dehydrated or hungry as this may make you more tired. Also, eating and drinking signals to the body that you are awake. Avoid caffeine where possible as this can lead to crash, but if necessary, try to limit it to small amounts early in your shift.
Again, this may take some trial and error. If you are on a run of nights, be sure to get the same amount of sleep as you would if you were working days. On your last shift it is important to remember that you are likely to have a sleep debt to make up for; so going to bed, even if just for a few hours, is the best option here. Some people prefer to try to stay awake and go to bed early but the best option is a mixture of the two; go to bed and get up around noon and go back to bed at a reasonable time.
About the Author
James Mellot is a freelance blogger and contributor to various digital publications. He focuses his work a range of health topics, though he is also known as something of a global traveler and enjoys documenting his adventures around the world.