How to Nail Your Night Shift: Nutrition and Lifestyle Tips for Shift Workers

September 23, 2021 by

Nearly 15 million Americans work either a permanent night shift or they regularly rotate schedules, alternating between day work and night work. This means that a large percentage of the workforce are exposed to the hazards of night work. These hazards not only put people’s short-term health at risk, but it can also disrupt the body’s metabolic processes and increase the risk of chronic health problems as well.

Our bodies are designed to work on a sun-based clock. Circadian rhythm means that we relax after the sun goes down and spring back into action when it rises the next morning. When we force the body to remain awake during dark hours, we are combating our natural rest period. Circadian mismanagement can lead to sleep disorders and fatigue. Fatigue in turn worsens mood, decreases reaction time and decision making, and makes people more susceptible to infection. This is particularly dangerous for first responders and medical professionals whose jobs require them to make life-or-death decisions.

While it may not be possible to decrease the need for nighttime work or make sweeping changes to scheduling practices, there are some things that an individual who works night shifts can do to mitigate the negative impacts of disrupting the natural sleep wake cycles.

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