Trying to keep your eyes open and stay awake when everybody else is tucked into their comfy bed is certainly a hard thing to do. But have you ever succumbed to falling asleep on the job?
Well if you have, you’re probably not going to admit to it on my blog … and I certainly don’t blame you! But what I will tell you is that I’ve come very close.
I remember working a few 8:30pm – 4:30am shifts at the international airport and about 1am, I was ready to curl up into a ball, switch off the light and have a snooze under my desk. Working night shift is just not fun at all!
Like most of us, I tend to expire around mid-night so getting through those last remaining hours during the night can certainly be physically and mentally exhausting. In fact our brain is least alert between 1am and 6am so trying to do any task – let alone a complex one, is excruciatingly hard at that time of the night.
Your level of concentration and memory is also severely compromised when you work night shift.
The harsh reality however, is that working night shift is something that cannot be avoided in many occupations.
So besides stating the obvious, what are some simple things that you can do to help reduce the impacts of night shift?
1. Try and reduce working night shift as much as possible – no more then 2 shifts in a row.
2. Snack lightly during your shift and have a small meal at the midnight break. 3am to 4am is when you will feel most tired so this is a good time to have a snack with a protein, small amount of whole grain and a fruit and/or vegetable.
3. Just before you go to sleep, eat a small light snack that is high in carbohydrates and low in protein and fat as this will help you sleep. For example, a small bowl of cooked oatmeal, toast and jam or cereal and milk.
4. And finally, limit caffeinated drinks during night shift, especially in the last half of the shift so that you are ready to sleep when you get home.
There’s nothing more frustrating than coming home after night shift, and not being able to catch up on those long lost zeds!