The graveyard shift isn’t a walk in the park! Every individual from medical health professionals to law enforcement officials know this for a fact, no thanks to the body’s recognition that its natural circadian rhythm is out of whack. There’s also the matter of missing out on normal daytime activities that most of your family and friends are engaged in.
Fortunately, there’s always a silver lining in every cloud. You will find several effective and efficient ways of staying awake and alert during the night shift when your first instinct is to hit the sack. Your choices range from drinking an energy drink, such as Monster Energy, to eating nutritious food like protein bars. Here are more tips you need to know.
Enjoy a Hot Shower First
While a cold shower may seem like a better idea, it isn’t so for many reasons. You may want to bundle up with a thick sweater and blanket after taking a cold shower so getting out of bed becomes more difficult. You should instead take a hot shower first thing after waking up so that you will enjoy a short burst of physical energy.
You will be more alert because your pores have been opened by the lukewarm water. Your skin feels so much more refreshed as well as able to breathe in, so to speak, more oxygen. You will be more than ready to face the challenges of the day ahead, especially when you’re getting ready for your night shift.
Work Out After Your Shift
Your first instinct after skipping on sleep the night before is to sleep the entire day. But this can be counterproductive because you’re missing out on an opportunity to build up your cardiovascular endurance and muscular strength! Both of these benefits of regular exercise are a must for keeping your mind and body fit enough to withstand the rigors of the night shift.
Besides, the sun is already high up in the sky, which will likely make you more awake than you like – your body responds to the sunlight’s stimuli. But when you exercise, you will be more likely to sleep better and, thus, you will be better able to deal with the demands of the graveyard shift.
Drink Caffeine Wisely
Too much of a good thing can be dangerous – and it applies to caffeine, whether it comes from cups of coffee or from cans of energy drinks. You should listen to your body’s signals about its tolerance levels for caffeine consumption for an entire day. You must also follow the manufacturer’s recommended dosage for energy drinks.
You may get the jitters from three cans of energy drinks, for example, consumed within your 8-hour night shift so you can limit it to just two cans. You can the skip on the cups of black coffee, which you may not like in the first place because of its bitter taste and strong effects. You will find that energy drinks, in contrast, have appetizing and refreshing flavors that keep you awake for many hours without affecting your sleep patterns, if and when consumed properly (i.e., in moderation).
Choose Feel-Good Food
You will find so tempting to reach for fast-food during your graveyard shift. You will even feel more refreshed with junk food because of its high carbs, fat and sodium content. But you will eventually find that the high is only temporary while the crash is hard so you reach for more fast-food fare – and the cycle goes on. Before long, you will find yourself getting fatter and fatter, which will definitely not do wonders for your life.
Instead, you should keep healthy food within your reach during your night shift. Fresh fruits and vegetables are great snacks, as well as homemade sandwiches and salads with ingredients that you have chosen for their health benefits.
Adopt Healthy Lifestyle Habits
Aside from your food and drinks, be sure to take a look at your lifestyle habits since these will also affect your ability to hold your own during graveyard shifts. A few tips:
- Get as much sleep as you can when you’re off duty.
- Wear an eye mask and use blackout curtains so that your body gets to sleep faster and easier in the morning after your shift.
- Avoid using alcohol as a sleeping agent. While it promotes sleepiness at higher levels of consumption, it also disrupts the REM phase of sleep. You will feel more tired when you wake up because of it.
You should also think about committing to daytime activities that can throw a monkey wrench into your work.
Enjoy your graveyard shift even when there are sacrifices to be made. Your mind and body will become accustomed to the risks and rewards that it brings, perhaps including your enjoyment of popular energy drinks.