Night shifts and how can they affect you

Hello, my dear readers! I am sorry that I haven’t managed to post anything this week but it’s been crazy and to be frank, I haven’t really felt when it passed. As you might guess from the title, last week I had night shifts at work.

It was not something imposed by the company but something that I wanted, choosing to see how my body can accommodate working during the night shifts. More as an experiment, if you want to.

Shift Work Disorder and how it can affect your life

According to Wikipedia, Shift work sleep disorder (SWSD) is a circadian rhythm sleep disorder characterized by insomnia and excessive sleepiness affecting people whose work hours overlap with the typical sleep period.

One Study lead by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that women who have worked rotating shifts for 5 years or more experience short life spans and have a higher risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer.

Long term night shift work can lead to an increased risk of cancers, metabolic problems, heart disease, ulcers, obesity and gastrointestinal problems. The lack of sleep can change metabolism and appetite, causing irregular eating habits and a poor diet.

Issues that can affect persons who work at night are also related to the light exposure that suppresses melatonin (the substance that is secreted at night in the human body).

Night shift work disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm (that regulates the release of different chemicals in the body) and causes the persons to become out of sync with the external environment.

Regarding mental health, the night shift can increase the risk of depression, creating social issues that affect well being and happiness.

Productivity and performance are being at stake because of various reasons. Night shift workers do not sleep the full amount that their body requires and accumulate in a large „sleep” debt over time.

This can slow your reaction time, and you are not so likely to resolve problems and respond to challenges as you would in the day time. The concentration is reduced and it becomes harder to focus and stay on task.

Also, night shifts deprive you of vitamin D which is essential for human health. Vitamin D assists with the absorption of calcium and promotes bone growth. A low amount of vitamin D in the body can lead to osteomalacia (misshaped bones) along with breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, heart diseases, and depression.

(Image Source – Unsplash)

Ways to recover after a night shift

  • Get help from your loved ones

The family cooperation is very important in situations like these and to be successful in the night shift and stay focused you need to rest. Working together and balancing essential activities is vital. Family time, paying bills, shopping and housework must be done in your free time, better said after a long period of sleep in which you can recover your „powers”.

  • Stay away from caffeine and energizing drinks

I observed in my case that staying away from coffee and energy drinks can be a challenge in the night shifts. But even if it seems impossible at times, we don’t have to overdue the consume, and drink only a less amount and cover the rest with water. Caffeine stays in the body for hours after you have already felt the effects, and it can really affect your sleep after the work hours.

  • Avoid drinking alcohol

Alcohol can make you feel asleep faster than you would usually do, and it reduces the rapid eye movement sleep. REM sleep is the restorative phase of your sleep cycle and by consuming alcohol you interfere with your body’s ability to repair itself.

  • Get vitamin D from the right sources

As I have mentioned, the persons who are working at night have less vitamin D in their bodies. So, the best advice is that when you are not working, try to spend at least 30 minutes in the sun rays. Whether you go for a walk, exercise outdoors or even reading a book is just enough for your body to get vitamin D and keep you healthy.

  • Improve the quality of your sleep environment

Sleeping in the right environment is crucial for the quality of your night work because it affects the amount of time when you rest. Make sure you keep your room cool, as dark a possible.

Also, speak with your neighbors to avoid any drilling sounds during the day. If that is not possible consider using earplugs and a sleep mask. Consider turning off all the electronics that can wake you up.

As I have mentioned, the persons who are working at night have less vitamin D in their bodies. So, the best advice is that when you are not working, try to spend at least 30 minutes in the sun rays. Whether you go for a walk, exercise outdoors or even reading a book is just enough for your body to get vitamin D and keep you healthy.

  • Eat a healthy diet

Eating healthy is a good method of enduring night shifts. If you are used to working in the night shifts consider eating during the day, in your sleep time, even if you don’t have an appetite. Eat frequent light meals and healthy snacks to avoid the drowsiness caused by heavy foods.

Choose foods that are easy to digest as fruits, vegetables, bread, rice and pasta for your body to keep nourished and staying awake during the night time. Also, foods like tuna, eggs, turkey and tofu are important for protein level in the body. These foods also keep you alerted and helps in staying focused.

Make sure you avoid carbohydrates and sweet foods, as they can affect your organism and it will be harder to fall asleep during the day time.


Night shift is for sure a very challenging task and only you and your body know the struggle if you have been working during night time. In these situations, when working at night is better to follow the indications mentioned in the article and take care of yourself.

(Image Source – Unsplash)

8 gânduri despre „Night shifts and how can they affect you”

  1. Vai Katy dragă, câte sfaturi utile ne-ai dat tu aici..?
    Să ști că eu cam doi ani am lucrat la o firmă și a trebuit să fac pe două schimburi, adică, odată schimbul unu o săptămână, apoi doi cealaltă si tot așa, dar sincer mie nu mi-a facut bine pentru că nu mă puteam învăța bine cu un schimb, că trebuia apoi să shimb pe celălalt și tot așa..
    Acum fac doar schimbul 1 și este mult mai bine 🙂
    Apropo de vit. D să ști că eu nu am mai văzut soarele de mai bine de o săptămână. Ieri sa împlinit săptămâna de când n-am mai văzut razele de soare.. La noi la Alba-Iulia persistă o ceață groasă care nici cum nu vrea să se mai ridice..
    O Săptămână Frumoasă iti Doresc !!!

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