Some people like the night shift. Others take what they can get. Whatever your motivation, switching to an overnight schedule can have significant consequences. But by taking the appropriate steps, you can optimize your ability to make the transition.
Changing from a day shift to an overnight one can play havoc with the rest of your life. Your relationship with the rest of the world changes, altering the way you have to relate to loved ones and the general public.
Meanwhile, your body feels the difference. It takes time to adjust to the new schedule. Done wrong, you can mess up your internal clock and cause significant physical and mental strain.
But there are ways to avoid the worst consequences. There are steps you can take to transition to the night shift in the right way, minimizing the potential problems that can arise. Here are some tips to follow as you make the switch to a night shift:
Change Your Sleep Schedule Slowly
Making a sudden schedule change can confuse your internal clock. If possible, it’s better to ease into a night shift. To do this, move your bedtime a few hours each day during the lead up to your first evening on the job.
Of course, this might not always be possible. If you are starting a new job or switching shifts on short notice, you may have to make the change cold turkey.
Get Into a Routine
Once you get into your new schedule, try to stick with it. It will be easier on your body to get used to a routine than trying to bounce back and forth from different sleep schedules.
Don’t Rely on Caffeine
Recalibrating your internal clock will likely take time. While you wait to get used to the night shift, you might be tempted to boost your energy using caffeine, or even some heavier-duty products.
It’s best to stay away from this course. Once you become reliant on caffeine (or any other outside stimulant), it’s tough to ween yourself off of it. It’s better to find a more natural way to stay awake while you work to get accustomed to the new situation.
Work Out Before Your Shift
Exercise provides a more natural way to boost your energy levels. Before starting your shift, stop at the gym for a workout. It will help you get the blood pumping and speed up your metabolism for a long shift ahead.
Find Time for Family and Friends
One of the main challenges arising from a night–shift schedule comes from social pressures. It’s like moving to a time zone on the other side of the world: you are essentially on the opposite schedule as your loved ones.
Under these conditions, it’s hard to find time together. Don’t lose touch with them. Find time in your new schedule that overlaps with the people you care about.
Get Your Errands Done
Another timing change relates to everyday errands. It represents a different way in which your schedule stands opposite the world around you.
In this case, though, the time difference can work in your favor. You can run errands in the afternoon or the morning when other people are at work. Time it right, and you can find shorter lines and smaller crowds.
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