First and foremost, let's talk about what a shift worker is. It is anyone who is outside of that traditional 9-5 job. Someone who might work overnight, long hours, very early mornings, very late nights, and rotating shifts. This includes doctors, nurses, first responders, firefighters, law enforcement, military, restaurant workers, hotel workers, etc.
Shift work is extremely taxing on the body. It does not allow workers to get into any type of consistent routine and as they take in food at all hours while getting inconsistent sleep and suffering from a higher amount of stress. This causes changes to metabolism, mood, and sleep patterns while increasing the risk for ulcers, immunity problems, accidents or injuries, along with other potential issues.
So what can you do to help yourself feel your best and improve your overall health? There are three areas that we can look to optimize.
-Prioritize 8 hours of sleep. This needs to be your non-negotiable. Without sleep, we are not giving our bodies enough time to recover and be ready for the next shift, workout, or life event.
-Take a look at your week and plan, plan, plan! Write down your plan and stick to it. Work backwards from when you are going to bed to make sure you are getting those 8 hours. If you do not have time to workout on a shift day, plan to go on an off day.
-Look at the effectiveness of your training. Are you spending 2 hours in the gym? Let's get more effective training in! I am a big fan of evolvedtrainingsystems.com. Check it out!
-Plan when you will be food shopping and prepping. Planning ahead for what food you will have on hand is going to be your best friend. Make sure you have plenty of "easy-to-eat" snacks so if you need to grab something while on the move, it is possible.
-Go outside! On those days off, get a little vitamin D and try taking a walk outside and get those steps in! Ideally 10k steps a day!
-If possible, spread out working days so that sleep can stay a priority.
-Work with a nutrition coach who can be your accountability partner and guide you through this process.
-Set the example for other people at work. It's okay to be the only "healthy" one there especially because over time, you might be able to convert some people.
-If you work overnight and sleep during the day, consider an eye mask, ear plugs, and/or blackout curtains. Again, sleep is a priority.
-Bring a water bottle with you wherever you go! Try and get stainless steel so it is durable and can fully close! (I love my Yeti Rambler that I can seal closed.)
-While you're at it, bring your lunch box with you with some of those easy to eat snacks I mentioned above.
-Get a great support system of friends and family around you who understand your goals and are willing to help you out if needed!
-Be okay with not being perfect. We all know you work hard and are on a crazy schedule. Food quality will be compromised at times and that is OKAY. No one is perfect but do the best you can with what you are given!
***Always make sure to check with your doctor before adding supplements! These are basic supplements that could help improve our hormones, adrenals, and immune health which are all comprised through shift work.
-Vitamin B complex
-Adrenal Support Complex
-Thyroid Support Complex
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions! I would love to hear from all of you!