Have you been hired into work a midnight shift and you have no idea how you will survive? This happened to me.
I am NOT a late-night person. I am the type of person who has a strict sleep schedule, which I rarely stray from. Before hiring in to do midnights, I was going to bed between 9 pm and 10 pm and waking up between 8 am and 9 am. I know, do the math, that’s TWELVE hours of sleep. That’s too much! Don’t worry, I wouldn’t actually fall asleep until around 11 pm or midnight.
ANYWAYS, the point is I am very routine and a midnight shift job was about to uproot and make a mess of that routine. Here are some tips that helped me survive my midnight to 8 am shifts.
TIP #1: Keep it Regular
Your routine is now different, but it can still be a routine. Whatever you were doing before you went to be before, still do that before going to bed after work. For me, this meant I would come home from work a little after 8 am, and I would shower, do my nightly skincare routine, and watch a YouTube video until I crashed.
Likewise, whatever you would do in the morning previously, do after you wake up. Despite the fact that I was getting up between 2 pm and 3 pm, I would first let the dog out, use the restroom, then make myself breakfast. I would then go on with my day as if it were 9 am.
And repeat. Sure, this doesn’t always work out when you want to participate in social events, but keeping as regular and routine as you can, can lessen the exhaustion and your body will adjust to the change better.
TIP #2: Drink Water
Whenever you are awake, drink water. If you are dehydrated, it will not only be more difficult to stay awake during your shift, but you will also continue feeling exhausted no matter how much sleep you get.
TIP #3: Snack on Cold Fruits and Veggies
While I was tempted… no CRAVING junk food and sugar, I always felt better if I snacked on vegetables instead. When you are sleep-deprived or stressed, your body will crave carbohydrates and sugars, that’s just how the body works. This sucks because the cravings are so easy to give in to!
But if you don’t give in and you provide healthier cold options, you will find it easier to stay awake. If you avoid the sugars, you won’t experience a crash from the short burst of energy sugars provide. Plus, eating colder foods, in my opinion, force you to stay alert. Whereas, warmer foods make you feel cozy and sleepy.
TIP #4: No Caffeine After 3 am
Because I don’t drink coffee, I was using Monster Energy Drinks as my source of caffeine during my shifts. However, I drink these slowly and wasn’t finishing them until 5 or 6 am. Then, I was struggling to fall asleep. This isn’t good!
Sleep is so important, so disrupting your sleep cycle with lingering caffeine just won’t work!
To fix this problem I finished my Monster before 3 am, then continued drinking water the remainder of the shift. By doing this, I could stay awake my entire shift without struggling, but I was also able to fall asleep immediately. Problem solved.
TIP #5: Recognize that Your Body Will Probably Change
I gained 10 pounds by my 4th month on the job. It’s hard to stay in shape when you are more tired all the time and are constantly craving sweets. You should realize that while you can take action to avoid some body changes, your body will change.
For example, at night, the body naturally drops in temperature. So, you will probably be cold all the time at work, prepare accordingly. On the flip side, your body will not drop in temperature when you are actually sleeping, so you may have to adjust your sleep arrangements to accommodate.
You cannot change the body’s natural functioning. However, you can avoid the sugary snacks and remain on a regular schedule. Taking these steps allow you to better avoid weight gain and exhaustion.
TIP #6: Pay Close Attention to Your Needs
Paying attention to your body is so important. Some people adjust easier to shift changes, while others can’t seem to regulate. This is important to note, because if you are always miserable as a result of working midnight shifts, it may be time to find a different job that doesn’t require you to work midnights.
While we all do what we must to survive. If you are adding additional stresses, like disrupting our natural circadian rhythm, your body will wear down quicker. Your health is at stake, so pay attention to your body and what it needs.
TIP #7: Participate in Daily Self-Care
While physical needs are important to pay attention to, so are mental needs. When I become overly exhausted, I get emotional. This is a result of not getting enough REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. If I find that I am abnormally emotional as a result of exhaustion, I adjust by going a shift without caffeine to re-regulate my sleep. I remove caffeine because too much of it disrupts REM sleep
In addition to simply paying attention to your mental health, you need to feed it with self-care daily. This may mean daily walks, baths, or time to yourself. This is up to you to decide. Try my 30-day self-love challenge to help you figure out your self-care routine and better take care of yourself.