By: Jason Harper
Graveyard shift can be a challenge on the body and can require some adjustment time. It is important to implement a routine in regards to nutrition, sleep, and fitness to keep your body in the best shape possible.
Below are a few tips to consider when working graveyard shifts.
1. Prepare Your Meals in Advance
It can be a challenge to find healthy options in the middle of the night, which means it’s important to plan and prepare your meals ahead of time. Also, be sure to stay within your balanced calorie intake, which includes a combination of healthy proteins, carbs, fats, and fibers. A great tool I like to use is www.myfitnesspal.com, which is compatible with your Fitbit.
2. Plan Your Meals to Mimic a Normal Day Shift
Model your food choices around the normal “breakfast/lunch/dinner” meals. This means that if it’s 6pm, you should be eating a chicken salad and not a bowl of cereal. While it might seem strange to reach for the pasta after you’ve just woken up from a full “day’s rest”, it’s important your biggest meal of the day is eaten at 6pm in order to keep your body’s natural rhythm as balanced as possible. Make sure you eat three proportional meals with healthy snack items in between meals to keep your energy levels up and your body burning like a fine-tuned machine.
3. Make Time for a Workout
Yep, you still have to work out! There’s no way around it! Whether it is before your shift or after, exercise is a must. This does not mean you have to go to the gym or outfit your house with the latest in fancy exercise equipment, however. Taking a walk around your neighborhood or engaging in some simple exercises at home for 30 minutes can work just fine. Personally, I prefer the home workouts because I get more out of them and they allow me to be home, which saves time. Remember that 10% of something is better than 100% of nothing. No Excuses!
4. Stay Active at Work
It’s important to make sure you keep your muscles moving throughout your shift, especially if you have a desk job. Set a reminder to get up and walk around and do a few stretches every 30 minutes or so. This will help keep your energy levels up and keep your blood pumping.
5. Schedule in Rest and Recovery Time
You ate healthy all day, got in your 30 minutes of exercise, stayed active at work, and now you are ready to get some rest! It is important to adopt consistent habits and a regular “bedtime prep” routine.
A few things to keep in mind:
- Don’t worry about having that last meal before bed. Just remember to keep it balanced with lean proteins, healthy fats, carbs, and a source of fiber. This will be essential for your body to recover well.
- Some simple stretches and a shower can help your body to get into a relaxed mood for a good “nights” sleep.
- A good 8 hours of rest is important. Installing blackout shutters for your windows and keeping the air conditioning set at a cool temperature may help if you’re having trouble falling and staying asleep.
6. Take a Vitamin D Supplement
When you work the night shift, your sun exposure time is limited, which can easily lead to a Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is an important vitamin because it strengthens bones by assisting in the absorption of calcium. Vitamin D can also reduce the risks of Type 1 diabetes, prevent certain cancers, lower blood pressure, and a list of other disease processes in the body. This is why Graveyard Shift workers should consider taking a Vitamin D supplement, though I recommend contacting your physician before starting any supplementation.
I hope that some of these tips where helpful to you. Remember to keep it simple, but have a plan. Preparation equals success! If you have any questions about how to get started with your fitness plan, please feel free to contact me.
Harper Wellness LV, LLC
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