Monthly Archives: March 2016

The Best Time to Workout If You Work a Night Shift

Working nontraditional hours may wreak havoc on your sleep, diet and exercise routine. If you work the night shift, it is important to find the workout time that fits into your schedule. For some, that may mean exercising right before work while for others it may mean working out before going to bed. It is also possible to workout during your shift. Try out all three to determine the time of day that is best for you.

Before Work
If you feel tired, moody or drained before the night shift, exercise may do you more good than that large coffee or energy drink. According to, exercise fights stress and anxiety, improves your endurance, concentration and focus and boosts your energy and mood. Before you head to work, spend 30 minutes performing some form of cardiovascular activity such as swimming, bike riding or playing a sport. Ride your bike to work or take the stairs. You may notice improved alertness while on the job.

During Work
With family responsibilities, appointments, sleep, eating and other activities to care for first, it may be difficult to find the time to workout before the night shift. Instead of cruising the Internet or hanging out by the water cooler during breaks, spend that time on exercise. Keep a pair of light weights, a stability ball or resistance bands at your desk. Perform weight-bearing exercises like pushups or go for a walk around the facility. If your office provides a fitness center, use the recumbent stationary bike or lift weights for 10 minutes or so.

After Work
For some people, exercise increases their energy while for others it helps put them to sleep. If your shift ends around 6 a.m. or 7 a.m., wait until everyone is at school or at work before going to sleep. According to, you reach the deepest, most restful stage of sleep within the first three hours of laying down. Spend some time working out or performing light stretches or yoga to help ease stress and tension from your work day then, once the house is quiet, head to bed.

Best Time
The best time of day to workout for night-shift workers is largely dependent on the preference of the individual. Spend one week working out before, during and after your shift and see which one is the best fit for you. No matter which time of day you choose, treat exercise as if it’s an important appointment you cannot miss. Team up with a fellow late-night coworker to keep you motivated. In addition to exercise, eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and get plenty of sleep.

Tips on Adjusting to a Night Shift

Medical professionals, police officers, firefighters, factory workers and delivery drivers are just some of the people who are called on to work night shifts. Whether you are required to work the night shift on a regular basis or because your shifts rotate, adjusting to a schedule that requires you to sleep during the day is difficult. Lack of sleep can lead to health problems caused by increased stress and decreased immunity. Use some proven strategies to adjust to working the night shift.

Maintain a regular sleep schedule even on days when you aren’t working to help your body adjust to working nights. Turn off your phone and other distractions. Ask your family or roommates to support you by staying quiet during your sleeping hours.

Your body works on a circadian rhythm, a pattern that tells your body when to sleep and when to be awake. Sunlight plays a large role in this rhythm. Use dark, heavy curtains when you sleep to block out as much sunlight as possible. If possible, keep your workplace brightly lit to help your body stay awake.

Avoid caffeine, nicotine and other stimulants before it is time to sleep. Avoid sugar and processed foods and eat more fruits and vegetables to increase and maintain energy levels. Sugars and stimulants provide only temporary energy surges and eventually cause you to crash.

Regular exercise, along with diet, improves your overall health, increases your energy levels and promotes healthy sleep. Try working out before your shift and after your shift to see which feels better and gives you more energy.

Sleeping during the day makes it difficult to get a full eight hours of sleep. To stay alert on your shift, take a short nap before leaving for work. Don’t sleep for so long that you are groggy when it is time to go to work.

Diet for Diabetics on the Night Shift


Diabetes is a group of diseases that is characterized by the body’s inability to produce or use insulin. According to the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million Americans had diabetes in 2011. Common complications of diabetes include cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney disease, nervous system diseases and amputation. The ADA states that adopting a healthy diet, increasing physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight are positive steps toward reducing the risk of developing diabetes.

Night-Shift Work

According to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May of 2004, 27 million full-time workers had flexible work schedules, and 14.8 percent of all full-time wage workers worked a shift other than daytime, and 4.7 percent worked an evening shift, 3.2 percent worked the night shift, and the remaining percentage worked irregular or rotating shifts. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston have investigated the health risks of shift work and found that shift work is associated with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The increased risk is possibly related to the adverse metabolic and cardiovascular effects of chronic misalignment of the circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is the body’s internal regulatory center linked to the day’s light-dark cycle.

Considerations — Type 1 & Type 2

A Type 1 diabetic who requires insulin injections must adjust his injections to accommodate changes in his work schedule. It may be easier to take a long-acting insulin and then cover meals with a rapid-acting insulin to allow for irregular meal times. A physician or diabetes educator can assist with meal planning and adopting a successful insulin regimen.

Type 2 diabetics who take oral medications to control blood glucose will also need to adjust the timing of these doses, especially those medications that stimulate insulin release, such as sulfonylureas. These can be given before beginning the night shift, when the person is awake and having meals. It is a good idea to monitor blood sugars more often with a portable meter when starting new working hours.

Diet Plan
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that employers accommodate people with diabetes by providing reasonable adjustments for the individual, such as a private area to test blood sugars, or regular breaks for snacks.

Regardless of the duration or schedule of work hours, a healthy, balanced diet is the best choice for a diabetic. Special consideration should be given to the amount of carbohydrates at each meal, and snacks with the goal of keeping blood glucose levels within the goal range established by a physician.

Sleep Tips for the Night Shift


When you agree to work the night shift, you expect to change your lifestyle only slightly to match the need to sleep during the day in order to sleep at night. But that change of schedule can be easier said than done, warns the National Sleep Foundation. Night shift workers might find themselves tossing and turning when it comes time to hit the hay early in the morning, resulting in insomnia and fatigue. Break the cycle by using sleep tips for the night shift that will get you into bed and prepped for a restful day of sleep.

Sleep Aids
Invest in a few sleep aids that will improve the quality of your sleep in the daytime. Ear plugs may be necessary to block out normal daytime sounds, like passing cars, barking dogs and your family moving around the house. Purchase a large package, and discard after each use.

Blackout drapes can help you block out the daylight so you fall into an easier and more restful sleep. Install them directly over your present window coverings and pull them tight before you go to sleep. A sleep mask may also help to block the light from disrupting your sleep.

Decompression Time
Emergency Nursing World recommends having a decompressing time after work instead of heading home and going straight to bed. Just like someone working the day shift, it’s important to take time to relax and unwind, especially after a particularly stressful night. Give yourself 90 minutes to two hours of time to eat something, watch a favorite show or spend time with family before you go to sleep for the day.

Avoid Stimulants
Drinking coffee might help you stay alert while on the job, but it can seriously interfere with your sleep schedule when you drink it less than three or four hours before you’re due to go to bed, says the Mayo Clinic. Instead of turning to stimulants to help you stay awake, try ice water or a brisk walk during your break time. Then, when it comes time to go to sleep, you can fall asleep quickly without feeling jittery or hyper.

Keep Your Schedule
One large mistake you can make while on the night shift is switching your schedule on the weekends, says the National Sleep Foundation. While it may be tempting to sleep at night and be awake during the day, it can severely interfere with your internal clock. When Monday arrives, you’ll likely find yourself tired throughout work and alert when you should be sleeping. Maintain your schedule so that your body and mind can regulate your sleeping habits. If you need to adjust your schedule because of a new shift, do so gradually, starting several days in advance so you can be awake and aware while at work.