8 Ways To Stay Healthy When You Work Shifts

Working shifts isn’t always easy. The move between day and night shifts, having to sleep at odd times of the day and trying to eating well can soon take their toll on your health. Finding the right balance and approach to shift work is important. It will help you maintain your energy levels and keep your immune system strong. Here are some of the things you can do to stay healthy when working shifts.

8 ways to stay healthy when you work shifts

1. Be more organised

Organisation is key for a shift worker. Having a good idea of when your shifts are as well as your other commitments can mean that you plan in your rest time properly and don’t overexert yourself. Keep a planner on your wall and make sure the calendar on your phone is up to date.

2. Focus on getting enough sleep

While working shifts can take its toll on your social life, your priority should be making sure that you get enough sleep. It’s harder to sleep during the day when recovering from a night shift, so make your bedroom as night-like as possible with blackout curtains and no noise.

3. Don’t neglect exercise

Your fitness can soon slip if you neglect to exercise because of shift work. While you don’t want to exercise at the point where you’re most tired, you should try experimenting with exercising at different times of day to find the most effective period for you. Exercising first thing after you wake up is a good way to energise yourself for the day ahead, or you might find that you prefer to exercise after your shift ends. Shorter, regular workouts can be a good way to build up your fitness without you having to eat into your rest time too much.

4. Make a food plan

When you’re tired and working through the night, there is a temptation to snack on unhealthy foods. However, making a food plan and making sure you have enough healthy food and snacks around can keep your eating habits on track. Avoid break room temptation and stay healthy with a balanced diet.

5. Don’t use caffeine as a crutch

While some caffeine can be useful for helping with a short-term boost of energy, you can soon become too reliant on it. Drinking caffeine at different times of the day can also affect your sleep, so try not to drink caffeine towards the end of your shift, as you might struggle to get the rest you need afterwards.

6. Keep your mental health in check

Shift work could increase your risk of suffering from depression, but focusing on keeping your mental health in check could help you reduce the disruption that shift work can cause. As well as making sure you get enough sleep, make sure you socialise and interact with people, as these things are important for combatting the isolation you might feel as a result of shift work.

7. Get your dose of vitamin D

Vitamin D is important for helping your body to regulate its calcium and phosphate intake. When you work or sleep all day, it can be hard to get the natural vitamin D that comes from the sun, but planning a walk outside during the day can help. Avoid the temptation to hibernate on your days off, go and enjoy being outdoors instead!

8. Drink plenty of water

Dehydration is a risk at any time of day, but it can be easy to forget to drink water when you’re busy at work or you’re working strange hours. Carry a water bottle around with you and drink as much as you can to ensure you stay hydrated and don’t succumb to headaches or fatigue mid-way through your shift.

The right approach to working shifts can help you stay healthy and make shift work a suitable choice for your lifestyle. For many in the medical profession, a change to different shift patterns, such as out of hours, can help reduce stress in other areas of the job and help you juggle childcare and other factors in your life. Learn more about what it’s like to be out of hours GP by watching our videos and browse the jobs we currently have available on our East Berkshire out of hours recruitment pages.