Anyone who works beyond a regular shift of 9-5 pm or 10-6 pm is considered a shift worker. Working in a shift can have a serious short and long-term health impact. Short-term impact includes gastrointestinal issues like upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and heartburn, increased risk of injuries and accidents, Insomnia, obesity, mood swings, and depression. Long-term effects are life-threatening which include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
Following are the healthcare tips for shift workers:
- Take an hour or two to relax after work, whether it is day or nighttime.
- Eat high-protein foods like egg whites, peanut butter toast, roasted nuts, and makhanas to keep you alert.
- Eat meals at the same time each day seven days a week, even on your week off! This schedule helps maintain the body’s clock.
- If you want to eat something sweet, have it at the end of your shift. Sweets make you feel sleepy thus aiding in getting sleep as you reach home.
- Avoid coffee, tea, colas, and other caffeine drinks, which interfere with sleep. During a coffee break, drink orange juice, lemon water, or herbal tea.
- Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages before bedtime. Although the sedative effect helps you fall asleep, it tends to wear off in 2 – 3 hours and causes disturbed sleep in the latter half of the night.
- Darken the bedroom and block out daytime noises. Eyes are sensitive to light even when the lids are closed, preventing you from falling asleep or getting good sleep. You can use a sponge ear plug too.
- Avoid going to bed on an empty stomach. If you don’t feel like eating much, have a glass of milk or dairy product, which induces peaceful sleep.
- Do not use sleeping pills or other sedatives like antihistamines. They will make you feel drowsy, and disrupt your sleep-wake cycle leading to mood swings and depression.
- Exercise daily only after sleep. Night shift workers should avoid exercising as soon as they reach home. The best time for them to work out is before heading to the office in the evening. Exercise promotes wakefulness and keeps you energized in the later part of your shift.