Top 5 Ways to Survive Working the Night Shift

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The night shift. Graveyard hours can be brutal if you’re not prepared. If you’re just taking on a night shift, you’ll struggle in the beginning. Adopt a few strategies to make the transition to a night shift just a bit easier.

5 Hydrate

Water is your best friend. Fatigue and hunger pangs are often confused with basic thirst. Rather than waiting until you get a case of the yawns or a rumble in your belly, quench your thirst as you work. Keep a bottle of water handy at all times and make yourself drink. Add a few wedges of citrus fruit or even a splash of juice to the bottle to make it more enticing. Not only will you stay properly hydrated, you’ll be forced to go on several trips to the bathroom, making you get up and move around to stay awake.

4 Be Wary of Caffeine

Clearly, you’ll need a cup of Joe—or two—to survive late hours. Just be careful how much you drink and time your final sip accordingly. Limit yourself to 200 to 300 milligrams—about two to four cups—of caffeine a day. For some people, caffeine stays in your body for as long as six hours. If your shift starts at 10 p.m., plan to stop sipping coffee or caffeinated sodas by 2 a.m., so you can get it out of your system before your 8 a.m. bedtime.

3 Don’t Fill Your Belly

In the beginning, you may eat and eat and eat all night long, just to keep yourself going. Your waistline surely won’t appreciate your new habit, and neither will your digestive tract. If you devour a large meal within a few hours of your bedtime, your internal organs are wide awake and working nonstop to break down that food. If you must eat at the tail end of your night shift, make it a small healthy snack—such as carrots and hummus, whole-grain toast with peanut butter or a piece of fruit. You’ll get a few calories to keep you going without overloading your system.

2 Get Good Sleep

Keeping vampire hours—sleeping all day and going out at night—can be difficult, because your sleep time occurs during bright daytime hours. Invest in quality room-darkening shades or a sleep mask to block out the light. This will help trick your body into thinking daytime is really nighttime, you’ll have a better chance of getting a sound sleep. When your alarm clock goes off at 6 p.m., you’ll feel refreshed and ready to start your “morning.”

1 Change Gradually

Gradually change your internal clock. It takes your body at least two days—and as long as a week—to adjust to a new sleeping schedule, according to WebMD. If your usual bedtime is 10 p.m., make yourself stay up until midnight for a couple nights. After that, switch to a 2 a.m. bedtime, then a 4 a.m. bedtime.

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