Five rules to stay fit if you work the night shift

Sumita Thomas

May 4, 2020

Working nights instead of days can take a toll on your physical health as it throws your regular sleep, diet, and exercise patterns off gear. But by chalking out a proper diet and exercise plan, there are ways to ensure you still stay fit.

If you are pulling all-nighters, make sure you follow these six rules:

1. Sleep and eat well before the shift

If your shift starts at 6 pm, ensure you get 7-8 hours of solid and uninterrupted sleep during the day. Once you wake up, go outside, take a walk and soak in in the sun. The sun will act as a cue to your biological clock, informing that it is time to be alert.

2. Relax after a hard night’s work

It’s the same as unwinding after a hard day’s work. Come home, relax for a while, and then go to sleep. When relaxing before naps, avoid time-consuming activities. Choose things that you can put down easily when the time comes to go to sleep. For instance, listen to some soft music.

3. Cut the caffeine consumption and carbonated drinks

To stay awake, night shift workers often guzzle several cups of coffee. But that habit is both unhealthy and addictive. It is better to take a break, change activities, exercise, get fresh air and find a task that demands your attention and forces you to stay alert. Sweetened, carbonated drinks may seem the best choice when your energy levels are down, but in the long run, they cause great damage.

4. Reduce your carb intake

Carbs are a go-to when you get the late-night munchies, but they don’t just make you fat – they also make you sleepy. Instead, increase your protein intake to stay alert. Eggs, paneer, peanut butter, and tofu help increase alertness and focus.

5. Make time to exercise

Make sure you hit the gym on at least four days a week. Remember to have a small snack before exercising. Carbs like fruits, a protein bar, the biscuit will boost your body’s supply of glycogen and prevent you from feeling drained during a workout. If you don’t want to gym, buy a pedometer and set a target for how many steps you need to take daily to stay fit and make sure you meet it. On weekends, instead of lazing at home, plan an outdoor activity like trekking, cycling, swimming, and even some racquet sport.

About the Author

For Sumita Thomas, good nutrition advice is less about what NOT to eat and all about HOW to eat. Armed with a master’s degree in clinical nutrition and dietetics from IGNOU, Sumita has worked with multi-specialty clinics and corporate clients, planning calorie-specific menus for their cafeterias. She’s also a certified diabetes educator, has worked in cardiac nutrition and is even a TUV-certified internal auditor for food safety management systems. Maybe that’s why she ensures her advice is always scientifically sound, which makes her a perfect fit for us at HealthifyMe. Of the belief that a healthy lifestyle can be achieved with the combination of a healthy mind, body and diet, Sumita recommends setting realistic goals – one health target a day – and gradually incorporating healthy ingredients to your daily diet. Does she practice what she preaches? For sure, and ensures all those around her do too. So get set, because that now includes you!

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