Many people take up jobs they are not okay with simply for employment. While that is understandable during times of emergency, staying in a job that keeps you emotionally dissatisfied and also ruins your health can be detrimental in the long run.
Night shift jobs are sometimes high paying because no one wants to take them. Hence, employers often make lucrative pay offers to get employees. Such situation arises when one is forced to take a night shift.
However, working in night shift jobs is not easy, and it takes a toll on one’s health if they cannot adjust to the changing sleep patterns. Those who have been used to working day shifts will find it very difficult to stay awake at night shift jobs.
Nevertheless, falling asleep on the job is not an option, and many people go to extreme lengths to stay awake. One of the most common methods is to charge oneself with lots of coffee. Still, once the body becomes immune to all that extra caffeine, it soon develops a higher threshold.
There are far more effective ways of keeping awake at night shift jobs, and they will not hurt your system with the extra caffeine. Trying some of these tips and changing your daily lifestyle can help you stay awake during the night shift.
Why is it Important to Have a Sleep Schedule While Working Night Shifts?
Charging yourself with coffee will leave you drained and dehydrated, and it will also kill your appetite. And this is not a good idea, as you need all your strength and energy to adapt to the changing patterns. It would be best to devise a sleep schedule when you start working night shifts.
One way to make your body adjust to the sleep schedule is to slowly acclimate yourself to the changed timings. Do not assume that one fine day your body will agree to stay awake through the night and also handle all the pressures and stress of the workplace with ease.
Your body is used to falling asleep a few hours after sunset and waking up when the sun rises. When the pattern changes, your body has difficulty recognizing and adapting to the surroundings. It can cause stress and anxiety; of course, you would want to fall asleep.
One way of solving this problem is to start practicing staying away later and later in the days leading up to the new night shift job.
For example, if you went to bed by 10:00 pm, then start going to bed at 11:00 and then midnight, and so on. Start waking up an hour later in the morning so that you still manage to get your quota of sleep.
It could not be easy at first. You will feel very sleepy when you usually hit the pillow and automatically wake up before the alarm goes off. Use masks and dark curtains to help you sleep during the morning hours.
However, keep practising till your body gets used to the late hours. That way, when you finally start your night shift, you will have much better control over your sleep patterns and wouldn’t feel so sleepy throughout the night.
Sticking to this sleep schedule will prepare you both physically and emotionally to get you through the night hours.
Also Read:- 8 Good Excuses When You Want to Work From Home
Tips You Can Follow to Stay Awake at Night Shift Hours
Worried about how to stay awake for the night shift? Don’t be.
There are other more effective ways of staying awake during night shifts besides drinking countless mugs of coffee. Restrict yourself to one or two cups.
Instead, here are some tips on staying awake during night shifts that can help you cope with drowsiness much more effectively without harming your system.
1. Keep Your Work Area Brightly Lit
Since your body is used to the dark at night, a dark workspace will only make you feel sleepier. To combat sleepiness, keep your workspace brightly lit.
Have all the lights in the room switched on, and even if the other sections are dimly lit, make sure you have a bright table lamp on your desk.
Exposure to light will trick your body into believing it is daytime and help you stay awake.
2. Listen to Upbeat Music
Listening to some peppy music will also help you combat sleepiness. The beat will send a thumping vibration, and although you might not be allowed to turn on the music loud during work hours, you can use headphones to make it work.
However, make sure that it doesn’t disrupt your concentration, or it does not prevent you from listening to alarms or when your boss calls you from across the room. You can also listen to some exciting podcasts or audiobooks.
Not only will it divert your mind when you feel sleepy, but it will also add to your knowledge as you use your downtime productively.
3. Get Up and Walk Around
Sitting at your desk for too long will make you quickly feel sleepy. Before you know it, you will feel like putting your head on the desk for a quick nap.
However, that is not to be encouraged at work, and you should try to get some movement to combat this problem. You must get up from the desk and walk around a bit.
You could use the water filter or trip to the coffee vending machine. Even that little bit of movement will make things a lot better. You will also not feel stiff from sitting in the same position for extended periods.
4. Talk to Your Colleagues
There are always some light phases between work; you can use this time to chat with your colleagues. Once the peak hours have passed, you can talk to one another about anything you feel like.
After all, many of them might face the same issues as you due to the night shift, so this will be a welcome change for everyone.
If you are in one of those night shift jobs where you have to work alone, you can log in to some forum or group you are a part of from a personal device and chat for a few minutes with your online community.
Also Read: 9 Signs You Should Quit Your Job Immediately
5. Have a Snack
Keeping yourself replenished and hydrated is one of the principal things you can do to combat sleepiness. An empty tummy will make you feel low on energy and miss out on the nutrients that keep you alert and awake.
Hence, before starting work, always have a good meal, especially a protein-packed one. Then, during work, try to snack on something light at regular intervals through the night.
Do not have a heavy meal during work, as this will make you feel full and drowsy again. A moderate meal halfway through the night would be ideal. You can have an energy bar if you feel the need.
6. Stay Busy
This might seem obvious, but you won’t know how important it is till you start feeling busy at work. Every workplace has some peak hours of work, and once those hours are over, that is when you feel empty.
At night, this is the period when you would feel like sleep wants to take over. Find something productive to do during this time. If you have accomplished most of the day’s tasks, try solving a crossword puzzle or spend some time making your grocery list.
You could also read some articles or do some research on your field of work. Exercising your brain is one of the proven tactics to keep sleepiness away.
Lifestyle Changes to Help You Stay Awake During Night Shifts
Besides the tips mentioned above, lifestyle changes can help your body cope better with the changed sleep timings and help you manage the stress and anxiety of working night shifts.
1. Yoga and Meditation
Practicing yoga, meditation, or some form of exercise can give your body the required activity to help you stick to your sleep schedule. Yoga and meditation can help you calm your mind and relax your body.
After coming back from work in the morning and retiring for the day, the first thing you should do is to do some yoga or exercise before preparing for the night shift again. You will soon notice the difference within days of starting your routine.
2. Less Party
While working a night shift does not mean you have to let go of your social life; you should regulate it to meet your body’s needs first. Parties are mostly held after hours, so heading to a party before work is not a good idea.
You will feel exhilarated from the party, even have a drink or two, and the work environment will seem monotonous and stifling. You will probably long to be with your friends again and find concentrating difficult.
Moreover, partying also requires a certain degree of energy, and you will also feel tired after coming to work. So restrict yourself to partying during the weekends and holidays only when you work night shifts.
3. Reduce Smoking and Drinking
Consumption of alcohol or too much smoking can make you feel drowsy and feel at work. Hence, cutting down on them will not only help you with sleep management, but you will feel better in general.
Alcohol and the fumes from tobacco might make you feel momentarily alert. Still, when they enter your bloodstream, they have an adverse effect on your system. Practising a healthy lifestyle is the key to sticking to your sleep schedule.
4. Getting Sunlight
If you want to stay awake at night, you have to get enough sunlight during the day. That is how the body works. Sunlight helps create melatonin in the body, which helps induce sleep.
Hence, if you were under the impression that staying indoors and away from bright light will help you sleep better during the day, then you are mistaken. It would be best if you always tried to get some sun first after ending your night shift job. That will help you sleep a lot better.
Moreover, you will also get ample amounts of Vitamin D, which is essential to keep paleness and tiredness at bay, enabling you to lead a more holistic life.
Read More: Should You Take a Lower-Paying Job to be Happy or Less Stressed?
People working in law enforcement, IT, e-commerce, transport, forestry and entertainment, and many other sectors often work night shifts. However, this time of the day can get lonely, and certain dangers like nighttime travel after dark.
There is also the sadness of missing out on family time since you do not get time to spend with your spouse or children. Most importantly, no matter how hard you try, night shift jobs can often make you feel sleep-deprived. The resultant tiredness can also leave you irritable.
Hence, it is imperative that you do whatever it takes to develop a healthy sleep pattern that helps you stay awake during night shifts and follow the tips to make things better.