Angela Bekiaris
3 minute read
30 Aug 2018
1:50 pm

How to stay healthy when working night shifts

Angela Bekiaris

Limit yourself to one coffee per shift and avoid all energy drinks because you don’t really need all that caffeine to stay awake.

Picture: iStock

Studies have shown that night shifts have been linked to early death, so get your health in check immediately.

There are ways to stay healthy while working night shifts, says Australian fitness trainer Kayla Itsines.

Don’t skip

Working on night shift means you are more likely to skip meals – but you should eat irregularly and exercise lightly (as you’re sleeping away most of your day); you need to pay attention to how you can help yourself.

Stock up healthily

Don’t get your hands on unhealthy takeout late at night. Prepare your meals the night before by filling up your fridge and pantry with healthy fruits, veggies and snacks. And if you need to eat carbs, says Kayla, “try swapping white ones for quinoa, brown rose or rolled oats”.

Picture: iStock

Preparation is key

Kayla suggests you cook as much as you can beforehand so that all you have to do is heat up your healthy meal when you get home or when you wake up.

Stop unhealthy snacking

This one can be hard with the hours you work, but try to stick to it. “If you’re one of those people who gets sucked in by the vending machine at work or you end up driving through 24-hour takeaways during your night shift, you need to start bringing your own food to work,” says Kayla.

“By packing your own meals, you can choose what goes in to them, meaning you can eat healthier options.”

Picture: iStock

Stick to a schedule

“You should still be eating three main meals a day with snacks in between,” explains the fitness guru. “If you can roughly stick to the ‘regular’ times, then even better,” she adds.

Kayla also stresses that you shouldn’t be eating massive meals while on night shift. “Try eating breakfast as you get home,” she says, adding: “Lunch when you wake up, and dinner before you start work.”

Cut down on caffeine

This one might be tough at first, but you don’t really need all that caffeine to stay awake. And while you’re at it, avoid all energy drinks too.

“If you drink coffee, try to limit yourself to one per shift and drink it four to five hours before your shift is due to end, as caffeine stays in your system for a long time and you may find it hard to sleep when you get home,” she says.

“Aim to gain most of your energy through healthy eating and having a consistent sleep schedule.”

Picture: iStock

Exercise when you can

We know this can be hard when you are sleeping most of the day, but you’re not sleeping all day long, so there is always time for a little exercise – you only need 20-30 minutes.

So instead of watching TV during that extra half hour, do some lunges at home, get in a quick run before work or enjoy a nice long stretch. This will refresh your body and mind!

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