Night Shifts: A Trouble for Food and Health
I have come across many friends and some clients of mine working at nights, who have often complained about their food and health troubles during night shifts. First, I need to explain which type of industries requires night shifts. Working at nights are usually required in industries like Call centres, many IT companies dealing with international clients, hospitals, etc. In night shifts companies ask their employees to work at night and sleep in the day which is just the opposite of the schedule in which we have been grown up since our birth. These changes in the schedule works adversely on our biological system affecting our immune system and leading us to many serious medical problems like insomnia, back problems, indigestion, etc.
According to a report from msnbc., the World Health Organisation and the American Cancer Society classify NIGHT SHIFT WORK as a probable CARCINOGEN. It has been reported that among people working at night, 40% females suffer from Breast Cancer and 20% male suffer from Prostate Cancer.
Reason of medical ailments:
- Our body secretes a neurohormone melatonin which is responsible for regulation of our immune system, digestion, ability to think, etc. It is not produced properly in absence of natural light. Working at night and sleeping in the day prevents the body to get exposed to sunlight thus hampering the production of the hormone.
- Our working schedule at night affects our biological clock affecting the functions of all our vital organs.
- Wrong choice of foods at night like chips and chocolates or consumption of too much coffee, improper sleep in the day due to the noises like passing cars, daytime works, etc.
- No physical activity.
- Over eating at work due to loneliness, tiredness. Eating along with working also makes us eat more.
10 easy ways to keep yourself healthy while working at night:
- Take your dinner at around 7-8pm, at least 2 hrs before going to work.
- Go for a short night walk after dinner.
- Since all the shops and stores are closed at this time, vending machines with full of fat, calories, high sugar choices are the only options left. Better carry homemade food. If you stay away from home you can carry vegetable sandwich, cereal bars, fruits, fruit juices, fruit buns, salads, etc.
- Eat 4-5small meals at frequent intervals instead of having 2-3 heavy meals
- Don’t go for many coffees. Caffeine will help you stay alert at night but it will hamper the absorption of iron, make kidneys excrete more water leaving you dehydrated. Never take coffee 3-4 hrs before your shift is closing or you are heading to bed after work. Caffeine’s effect lasts for at least 8 hrs. It will hamper your sleep during daytime.
- Keep sipping water, fruit juices, lassi, buttermilk, milkshakes, herbal or ginger tea, vegetable soups, etc. to prevent dehydration
- Eat protein rich food and complex carbohydrates instead of refined carbohydrates or fatty foods like paranthas made from refined flour, chips, carbonated drinks, alcohols, sugary items, etc. Instead carry pasta salads, chicken or vegetable sandwich, egg white omelettes, baked or boiled veggies with little black pepper and salt on it. Protein rich foods like cauliflower, chicken, egg, soy, etc are a rich source of tryptophan, an essential amino acid which helps to produce melatonin(a neurohormone) and serotonin(a neurotransmitter) which is important for our brain.
- Take lots of fruits and vegetables. They contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which combat free radicals which your body produces through the physiological stress of night.
- Never skip your breakfast and it should be the largest meal of the day after waking. Take a light meal after work and 1-2hrs before going to sleep. After you wake from sleep in the afternoon or evening take a heavy meal. Consider it as your breakfast.
- Use ear buds, blackout drapes while sleeping to avoid day time noises.
- “One large mistake you can make while on night a shift is switching your schedule on weekends” says The National Sleep Foundation. Never change your schedule on weekends or holidays. Sleeping at night or enjoying in the day might be tempting but at the onset of the week you will feel tired and drowsy.
Diabetic Employees Just Need To Follow 2 Extra Ways Along With The Above:
- Keep a check on your blood sugar level.
- Ask your physician to adjust the timing of the injections or dose of the medications (stimulating the release of insulin in your body) according to your working schedule.
With few restrictions and healthy practices, I am sure even a night shift problem can be taken care of.