Many Americans are snug in their beds once the clock strikes the witching hour. This, of course, doesn’t apply to employees who are required to work at night. Some remote workers, security guards, health care professionals and call center agents of companies that offer 24/7 customer support have to work the graveyard shift.
A lot of people wince at the idea of working at night. After all, staying energetic when the city is dark and quiet is difficult to do. If your job or employer requires you to work on a graveyard schedule, don’t fret. You can take steps to make your nights on the job relatively enjoyable.
Here are a few strategies to stay positive, energized throughout the graveyard shift and maintain optimal performance at the workplace:
1. Stay Hydrated, But Moderate Your Caffeine Intake
Coffee is the best friend of night shift workers. The caffeine in this popular beverage can help you stay alert during your shift.
Just make sure that you don’t drink too much coffee. Too much caffeine in your body could prevent you from getting some shuteye once your shift is over. So make sure you drink your coffee at the start of your shift.
If you’re looking for other options, consider drinking fresh juice (or sugar-free, fruit-flavored sparkling water if you’re not a fan of sugary beverages). Staying hydrated will help keep you awake and reduce the risk of dehydration.
2. Commit to a Solid Routine
If you see yourself working the graveyard shift for quite some time, you’ll need to create and stick to a nighttime routine. Switching between nights and days will only make things hard for you and prevent you from being productive.
Here’s an example: let’s say you wake up at seven in the evening to prep for your graveyard shift. Then, you go to sleep on or before 11 a.m. During your days off, follow that routine. Avoid the additional stress of altering your sleeping patterns on weekends.
3. Make Friends with People at Work
As the saying goes, best friends make the difficult times easier and the good times better. If you’re going to work a long, graveyard shift, you’ll want to spend it with people who can make you happy and motivate you to succeed. Great work friends offer an outlet for healthy social interaction. What’s more, connecting with friends helps relieve work-related stress and makes going to work fun.
4. Get Quality Sleep
Staying productive at work is next to impossible when you lack sleep. If you’re having trouble obtaining quality rest time after your shift, try out these suggestions:
- Minimize the Noise – Although nights are generally peaceful, you can’t say the same during the day. If you live in a busy neighborhood, you’ll likely be distracted by children playing outside, construction work and honking car horns. If these noises are driving you crazy, use a sound machine to minimize or drown out the unpleasant sounds. Alternatively, wear earplugs or wireless comfortable headphones with a noise-canceling feature.
- Set the Ideal Sleeping Temperature – The temp usually dips at night, making you crave for your favorite blanket. The opposite, however, can happen during the day. You can prevent waking up in a messy sweat by regulating the temperature in your bedroom. Your goal is to replicate nighttime conditions, so that you can sleep soundly and comfortably.
- Implement Light Control – Sleeping is difficult when you have bright, morning sunshine entering your windows. Regulate the amount of light in your room by installing blinds or curtains that effectively block the sun. If you’re on the budget, put on a sleeping eye mask.
5. Adhere to a Healthy Diet
Fueling your body with the right food can keep you energized and motivated throughout a long graveyard shift. Unhealthy sweet snacks, such as donuts and cookies, won’t do much to get you through the night.
Although sugary treats provide an energy spike, they’re temporary. You’re likely to experience a serious sugar crash hours after eating. This could sap your motivation and make you feel miserable for the rest of the night.
Instead, munch down on small, healthy snacks throughout the night. Foods, such as nuts, raw veggies and fresh fruit, can provide your brain with the nutrients and energy it needs to keep you going.
6. Work Out Regularly
Staying active outside of your work shift helps prevent fatigue at work and keeps you physically and mentally fit. Before your shift, do some light exercises and stretching to get your blood pumping and prepare your mind for work. Also, make sure to work out regularly on weekends.
These suggestions will help you stay pumped and energized during the graveyard shift. Although working at night is hard, it does come with a few benefits, such as higher pay and a shorter commute time.