Miserable on Night Shift? Here’s How to Cope!

Stop gulping down cups after cups of coffee while on night shift. Caffeine ain’t doing you any good!

Health News
4 min read
Miserable on Night Shift? Here’s How to Cope!

Do you often miss out on the most sought-after parties, friends’ birthday bashes and family gatherings because you’re busy toiling away at work while your friends play? Do you have raccoon eyes, a bloated tummy and an awful sense of foreboding that the world lives when you sleep? Well, night shift does suck the life out of you – not just figuratively but also physically!

Your body becomes more coffee, less blood. You are constantly bingeing and a perpetual crankiness seeps into your very being.

As if that’s not enough, a study published in the Obesity Reviews journal claims that people working night shifts have a 29% higher risk of becoming obese compared to those working day shifts.

This is even more alarming for those who permanently work on night shifts as opposed to those who have rotating shifts.


Health ‘Night’mare

Breakfast after nightshift be like. 
Breakfast after nightshift be like. 
(GIF Courtesy: Giphy)

Changes in the body clock and subsequently lifestyle (due to the former) lead to various health imbalances. Working at odd hours (in this case, the night shift) releases stress-hormones that trigger various health hazards.

Working at night disrupts your eating habits. Your metabolism is usually slower at this time and the calories you consume readily converts to layers of fat that sits on your middle. 

According to a study published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, a BMJ Journal publication:

Night shift work can hinder the body’s ability to take out cellular “trash” and repair damaged DNA. 

Not just this, but several studies show that people who work night shifts over prolonged durations suffer from long-term sleep deprivation. And this has serious health consequences.

Loss of sleep increases the production of the hormone Ghrelin, which stimulates hunger. Alternately, it decreases the levels of the hormone Leptin, which signals to your brain when your body doesn’t require any more food. Disruptions in sleep pattern makes the body crave foods high in calories, fats, and carbohydrates which in turn leads to obesity, low immunity, imbalanced blood sugar levels, mood fluctuation and much more.
Ankita Gupta, Founder, Nutrition Matters, Delhi

Why Is It Important to Maintain The "Internal Body Clock"?

Despite knowing all the health hazards that come with the night shift, it’s not like you have much of a choice. In some professions such as media, it is the peril of the trade. Some who regularly work ungodly hours may even argue that working night shift is a part of their routine, something their bodies will eventually get accustomed to. So what is it that makes it really harmful?

Our biological clock is set by the rising and setting of the sun and not our work schedule. Surprise, surprise!

The body’s inner clock or the “circadian rhythm” governs your sleep and eating patterns. This circadian rhythm is governed by the light-dark cycle over 24 hours, overriding which could have serious ramifications.

A 2007 World Health Organization report noted that “circadian disruption” is ‘probably carcinogenic.’

In fact, it’s not just the night shift which is at fault. Short-term disruptions such as the ones caused by jet-lag or time-zone changes can also play their part in wreaking havoc on the body.


If You’ve Got No Other Option... Here’s How to Make the Best of Night Shift

Healthy eating during night shift is the way to go. 
Healthy eating during night shift is the way to go. 
(GIF Courtesy: Giphy)

Ankita Gupta, Founder of Nutrition Matters shared some tips with The Quint on how to cope better with night shift. Here’s what she says:

Have dinner before going to work. This keeps you fuller and helps fight the temptation to take coffee breaks, gulp down sandwiches or devour that cup of noodles. Should you feel sleepy, eat an apple. Yes! An apple also keeps you awake better than a cup of coffee! Cut down on caffeine. 

She also emphasises the need to walk. Yes, even during night shifts. Take a break, munch on nuts or a fruit or simply go and fill your water bottle. But MOVE!

“The need to munch on snacks is real. If you can’t fight it completely, at least pick healthier options. Choose from fruits and veggies, hummus, nuts and even homemade energy bars. As a rule of thumb, make it a habit to carry food from home during night shifts. This way you end up consuming fewer calories,” she adds.

Sugary foods and drinks are a big NO during night shifts. They may act as mood elevators but the feeling doesn’t last long and you may experience low energy levels later on. The same goes for fatty (burgers), fried (fried chicken) and spicy (schezwan noodles/maggi) foods.

Most importantly, you need to have good amount of sleep despite being on night shift.

Make sure you fulfill the daily quota of 8 hours sleep while on night shift. When we underestimate the importance of sleep, we forget that sleep isn’t a luxury, it’s a biological necessity.
Ankita Gupta, Founder Nutrition Matters, Delhi

If you can’t choose to opt out of night shift, you can still make it easier and less taxing for your body. Remember, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

(Subscribe to FIT on Telegram)

Stay Up On Your Health

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter Now.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!