Health & Wellness Articles

How to Work the Third Shift and Stay Healthy

Tips on Sleep, Nutrition and At-Work Activities

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Nutrition
Eating healthy when your timetable seems so backwards is difficult. To maintain a nourishing diet, it’s vital to adjust your meal routine around your schedule. Do not skip meals. To avoid pumping in empty calories from vending machines or fast food, plan ahead. It is easy to eat to pass the time, but you’ll gain weight this way. Bring a healthy meal with you to work.

Here are more nutritional tips:
  • Don’t eat a huge meal right at the end of your shift. It will just sit in your stomach as you try to sleep, leading to trouble digesting as well as disrupted slumber. Your body will have difficulty burning these extra calories and they can turn to fat.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout your shift. Dehydration can cause cramps and headaches, which can make your shift very unpleasant.
  • Fuel up on complex carbs; these will release energy slowly over a long period of time, versus quick sugar bursts that won't last too long. Also, protein will fuel your muscles throughout the night.
  • Time your meals and activities to match your "day."
It might seem like survival of the fittest. You are falling asleep standing one night, while your co-worker trots cheerily along. What gives? What is he doing that’s making him better equipped to handle the third shift? It probably has less to do with superhuman powers than you might think.

Here are some tricks that will make the time go by more easily:
  • On-the-job exercise can boost your alertness. If you have an extra break where you can get in a few minutes of a good workout, take advantage! If you can’t exercise at work, try doing it at other times. This will create better daytime sleep. A word of caution: Don’t work out right after you get home, before going to sleep. It will wake you up and make snoozing difficult. Try working out before you go to work instead.
  • Exposure to bright light will also improve your alertness. Obviously, if it’s dark out, this can’t come from a natural source. Turn on the lights!
  • Music helps to break up the monotony of a long shift. If you are allowed, bring in your own music. Use fast-paced sounds to pump you up when you are dragging towards the end of the shift.
  • Missing your family? Include scheduled time when you can call them, maybe right when they get up in the morning or before their bedtimes. Also, try keeping a bulletin board in your house where you can leave or receive messages. Write them notes, and they’ll return the favor.
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About The Author

Liz Noelcke Liz Noelcke
Liz is a journalist who often writes about health and fitness topics.

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