Whether you call it the night shift, third shift, or simply the dark side, it sure is a different way of life for those of us who work while the world sleeps.
Working nights interferes with our body make up. Humans are diurnal. We are not meant to stay up at night and sleep during the day. Working against our circadian clock takes a toll on us. Our body clock controls both the glands that release hormones and our mood, alertness, body temperature and our body’s daily cycle. Due to this, those who work the night shift can suffer from sleep disorders and for some, constant exhaustion becomes a lifestyle.
At American Alliance Security Agency, we are always trying to help our Officers perform their duties to the highest levels. It is important to have a strategy in place to keep yourself alert. Here are some helpful health tips for our Officers working the night shift:
1. Eat well and exercise
The body’s digestive system slows down and does not easily digest heavy foods during the night. The best eating should be done with a first meal within the first hour of waking up. It is best to eat 5-6 small meals a day several hours apart. Diet and exercise could help prevent diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.
2. Get enough sleep
The brain can be tricked into thinking it is time to go to sleep if your bedroom is dark with blackout shades. An eye mask allows the ultimate darkness. And keep a pair of earplugs in the nightstand for when that darn gardener decides to weed whack and mow in the middle of your night, or for that neighbor’s dog that will not stop barking. Drive home wearing sunglasses to reduce exposure to light.
3. Try to keep a stable working schedule
Consistency is key. It’s recommended to find a routine and match your off days to your work days as much as possible. Although working during the daytime may not be an option, rotating shifts are harder on the body. You will be better off with a consistent routine.
4. See your doctor for closer monitoring
It’s a good idea to monitor that health risks are not impacting you in irreversible ways. Also, lack of exposure to the sun can cause deficiencies. We recommend blood work and checkup be done.
5. Nap before work
Since it may be hard to sleep consistently for hours, splitting your sleep can help to make things less dangerous at work or with commute drives.
6. Refrain from caffeine
Although it is tempting to have a cup of coffee or caffeinated soda when you need that boost of energy, your sleep quality is at risk. Your deepest stages of sleep are affected and you are not fully rested. Drink water when you are feeling sleepy.
7. Change lights at home
Besides using black out curtains to reduce day light, you may think about getting low-wattage light bulbs, maybe even a red one. This will decrease the output of light when making that midnight bathroom call so your sleep cycle is not bothered by the brightness.
8. Keep electronics out of the bedroom
It can be tempting to reach for the smart phone, tablet or laptop to check your email, Facebook or text messages. This includes television as well.
In our field, many of us tend to think we are invincible and will manage, but our body does not always keep up with our mindset. At American Alliance, we are a family and your well-being is important to us. As security officers, just like other first responders, with our intelligence, specialized knowledge, not to mention our charm, the community and residents rely on us too.