Here at Dare, we never stop moving. While most of us are cozy in our beds, Dare is on the road sweeping and cleaning various properties. But staying up all night isn’t how us humans are built. Our circadian rhythms tend to tell us to rise in the morning and sleep at night—a night shift is essentially unnatural. So, how is one to remain healthy while performing such demanding work?
I spoke to Regina Lawlor, a licensed practical nurse at Jefferson Health Systems, who also works the night shift, and asked what we need to do to remain happy and healthy:
“Making a routine for yourself is the best way to maneuver around working night shift. Having consistent eating, sleeping, and hygiene schedules alleviates most of the problems we tend to encounter while working through the night. Finishing a shift and going straight to sleep is hard enough, regardless of it being day or night, and so I prefer to take an hour or two and attend to myself. This is when I’ll take care of my hygiene needs and get everything prepared for later that day.
“I’ll prepare meals like a lunch and a dinner that I’ll take to work, as well as a meal that I can eat before leaving the house. Then I go about my routine of showering, brushing my teeth, etc. By the time I’ve finished all of this I’m tired enough to sleep; plus, I know that when I wake up everything is already sorted and taken care of.
“Sticking to a stable meal schedule is very important because working long shifts at night makes many people reach for snacks to stay awake. Make sure to have meals that are high in protein and try to eat those first before anything else. “Personally, I stick to a 6pm, 12am, 5am eating schedule, that way I’m not eating too close to when I’m about to go to sleep. Eating too close to bedtime can result in digestion related discomfort.
“Having a proper water intake has always proven to help with my feelings of sluggishness, and I make it a point to drink as much water as I do coffee, if not more. Though, ideally you should attempt to limit your caffeine intake and be sure to stop 5 hours before you plan to go to bed.
“Getting a good amount of sleep is not always possible, especially if I’m due back at work later that day. Personally, I tend to fall asleep between 9 and 11am and wake up around 4 or 5pm but ideally, you want to schedule 7-9 hours of sleep each night. I make it a point to get out of bed by 430-5pm, so I have some time to get my body and mind engaged, as well as to decompress a bit before work.
“To me, the most important thing about night shift is assessing my needs and attempting not to overdo it. Social interactions, conversations with friends and family, and hobbies can sometimes take a back seat to night shift, but I try my best to attend to these things accordingly; especially because the busiest time of my day is when everyone else is sleeping, so making time for these things is essential for me.”
Our team works long into the night driving large trucks and operating heavy machinery so it’s crucial that they maintain their awareness and energy throughout the night. Following the tips above can help any nightshift worker find success in their career all while maintaining a healthy work/life balance.