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How to Work the Third Shift and Stay Healthy

Tips on Sleep, Nutrition and At-Work Activities


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Good tips! I work 3 shifts, and there's no regular pattern whatsoever. We get 6 weeks shifts ahead, and next 6 weeks list one week before list we are doing ends. There can be mornings (7 am - 3 pm), evenings (1.30 pm - 9.30 pm) and nights (9.15 pm - 7.15 am) in whatever order. That is bit annoying, having some regular cycle would be easier, I think. Like now I have 3 nights, 4 days off, four morning shifts, one day off, two evening shifts, one morning shift, one day off, evening, morning, evening, evening, morning, two days off... and then starts next list, which we don't have yet.

I think I have adapted my meal times quite well if I have more than one or two night shifts in a row. I just act like afternoon was my morning and that evening is after 7 am when I go home. But I can notice that my energy level isn't as high as with morning or evening shifts... Still, worst case in my work is combination evening followed by morning. I'll get home at 9.30 pm and morning shift starts at 7 am. So there's only 9 and half hours between shifts, and in that time I have to drive home, get myself ready for bed, do morning stuff and drive back to work. So not likely I am getting 7 hours sleep or even 6...

But well, this is my choice, I chose profession with round the clock work (nurse), I can't complain (too much). Report
This article was an eye opener, I had no idea that night shifts can affect ones body so badly. I work only two night shifts a week, and i never eat at night. I tried to figure out my eating pattern for last 6 months and what works for me is eating during the day. I dont get continuous sleep however, i hit the gym as soon as im back home, eat breakfast, do some stuff, fall asleep for maybe 3 hrs and than i eat evening meal. If i have no time for meal no 3 i just take some fruit and veg to work, but usually im not hungry when i get there. Now i got another job and will be working days, back shifts and nights mixed in one week. I will try to incorporate some advice from the article regarding sleep pattern, maybe it will help keeping my energy levels. Report
Don't do what I did. I worked 9pm to 7:30am for seven years while caring for my children and homeschooling them during the day. I had to be alert in the day as well as the night and slept in one or two hour intervals. I only worked part time but it was rotating days. During that time I think I aged 20 years rather than 7. This is also when I really started having a weight problem probably because we ate hamburgers and such at 2am. Report
I work 7p-7a in a carecenter 3 nights a week some nights I run all night some just sit behind the desk. I never know when to eat and sleep because I do not have a fixed schedule and I TRY to live like"normal" people on my days off I have gained around 50lbs since college and going to nights if anyone has any ideas or advice I will gladly accept Thanks:) Report
I have been 3rd shift (11p-7a) in security for 10 yrs full time. Although I only get an average of 6 hours of sleep, I have managed to get an eating routine that works for me. I am maintaining weight, and am working on eating healthier, but it's a slow process. I think of my meals just opposite of day shifters. I wake up around 5pm. My breakfast is the most important meal of the day...dinner for my family. I eat a good meal around 6. Gets me going. Then on my way to work I have a snack (10p). My lunch I try to get in about 1230 or 1. That figures with normal people lunch time. I limit cafeene after 1 and will grab some yogurt and juice around 5am before I leave shift so I am not tempted to eat a huge meal when I get home. I get home about 730am, eat a light "dinner" and get a few things done around the house before getting to bed around 930am. Like I said, I am trying to eat healthier and get moving more, but for now I have a schedule that works. Report
I work only 40 hours a week. But great article. Thank you Report
I work in health care too & work 3A-3P....I'm doing pretty good with eating, but my sleep habits are terrible. I should go to bed about 6 at night but sometimes don't make it there until close to 9. I just keep telling myself that it's only 3 days a week!!! It does take me a couple days to "catch up" though....if only money grew on trees!! Report
My mistake I am at 206 right now at 5'8 I hate when people say oh your so tall you can't tell whatever I can tell and I know I am not in good health Report
I've been working 11 - 7 for about a year and a half. I started working when my youngest (2 on 27 Dec) was four months old. After I had him I lost all and I mean all plus my baby weight. Two - four months into working nights I started putting on the weight. I went from 160 -165 to right now at 106. I feel horrible to the point to not looking in the mirror after showering, turning the lights out if I'm not fully dressed etc. I don't know if these hours have anything to do with the weight gain, but I know I don't sleep well maybe 3 -5 hours a day, I am home with my 1 yr old and 4 yr old. I skip a lot of meals because if I have the choice to eat or sleep, I sleep. I don't mind this shift, hopefully I will be able to go to days in less than a year but for the time being HELP.. any advice??? Report
Just started nights 2200 to 0600 and will be working it for 10 weeks. Usually I work 1400 to 2200. I am finding time to excercise but the body is not ready for food at night Hopefully I can find some help in working trough this time in my life. Good luck to everyone who has this shift on a regular basis it takes some real stamina Report
I'm a station clerk for our local sheriff's office. We're required to work 2 months of midnights, 6 months of dayshift/eveningshift, 4 on/2 off (rinse, lather, repeat). I've been doing it for 3.5 years now and just this passed midnights set got down to a decent routine. For those 2 months of mindights, I can gain anywhere from 5-10 lbs, and it's pretty much stuck on me. I did well with getting my full 7-8 hrs sleep this passed rotation, but I'm usually wired when i get home in the mornings, especially when I eat something between "dinner" and sleep. And I have a hard time going to sleep in the mornings anyway. Working mids is a vicous cycle, on my days off, do I stay up all day with maybe a nap and sleep like normal people, or should I continue with my normal midngits sleep pattern and twiddle my thumbs all night long (or succumb to online gaming)? 3.5 years and finding the plan that works best for me is still the challenge, but I think I'm getting closer. Especially with the help of this article. Report
Very practical tips to keep focused on during unusual working hours. Thank you! Report
i also work third shift part time, I feel like Youngblood2 Do I eat my meals in reverse. I've been doing this 11-7 shift for 1.5 yrs. and gained back the 10 lbs. I lost. I'm too tired half the time when I'm off to exercise. I need to try a new approach. Thanks for listening. Report
I have been working the "grave yard" shift for almost three years. My sleep schedule is crazy at times, espeically when school is in. I try and get to bed when I get home, but sometimes I am just too wired. It usually takes me about an hour to unwind. Then trying to stay asleep, may it be the testing of the sirens on monday's, the garbage truck on thursday's, or my neighbor mowing her lawn twice a week.ugh, but I wake, and then quickly go back to sleep. I have black curtains, so my room is dark 24 hours a day. But my real issue is the eating. I have gained about forty pounds in the past four years, ten pounds a year, ugh!, but I can not get a good schedule for eating down. On my days off, it is the "normal" eating schedule, so I get thrown off. Has anyone found a good way to stick to a eating plan, that works mind you, for us, "the night owls".

Oh by the way, law enforcement side of the house too...thank the criminals, these fools are our job Report
Reading this one to the Hubby who works straight graves and trying to make it work for me too, my bar schedule swaps from two day shifts 8am to 5 pm to three 5pm-2 am shifts here on the 22nd for "summer hours" we're so not taking care of ourselves well when it comes to sleeping and working and all that goes with it though we're working on making changes to that. Report

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