Nutritional Tips for Shift Workers
Shift work (especially night shifts) disrupt your body’s circadian rhythm - the body’s internal clock that tells your body to be awake during the day and to be asleep at night. And by shift work, I mean any type of job that occurs outside of normal business hours! Working nights or early morning shifts, means that you’re awake and must be alert when your internal body system is programmed to be the opposite.
This disrupted internal body clock is why there are many short and long term health consequences associated with shift workers such as poor metabolic health and weight gain, mental health concerns and digestive issues, as well as increased risks of diseases and cancers.
By implementing healthy dietary and lifestyle practices, shift workers can minimise their risks of health issues and support their body’s internal body clock better. I have put together my top nutrition and lifestyle tips to help you stay healthy, and feel better if you’re a shift worker.
#1 Preparation is Key
Having a healthy meal prepared for you at home already to come home to after a shift can help you avoid falling into the trap of grabbing Mcdonald's takeaway or stopping into a convenience store on the way home. The same goes for preparing and taking your own “lunch” break meal and snacks to work.
#2 Set Yourself up for Success Before your Shift
To avoid feeling excessively fatigued and to feel more alert, fuel up with healthy fats and protein prior to your shift. Base meals around 1 lean protein source, 2-3 servings of vegetables with 1 serving of healthy fats. Avoid a large serving of carbohydrates which can make you feel drowsy - you want to save these for after your shift.
#3 During Your Shift
It can be tempting to reach for that chocolate bar or energy drink in the vending machine when you need a boost of energy during your shift. However, rather than these sugary options that will spike your energy and make you more tired later on, foods that release energy slowly will be much more beneficial. Choose snacks that are high in healthy fats or protein - such as a handful or raw nuts, a homemade protein ball or a protein shake. Our THRIVE Plant Protein contains almost 18g of protein per serve and is vegan, all-natural, gluten-free and contains no hidden nasties or artificial ingredients!
Avoid relying on an excess of caffeine to keep you awake, as a rule of thumb, stick to under 200mg of caffeine (the equivalent two standard instant coffees) and try to not have at least 6 hours before your scheduled sleep time, so it doesn’t interrupt your sleep.
#4 After Your Shift
Avoid having large, high fat and high sugar meals. Having a light meal consisting of protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates is ideal to not interrupt your sleep quality or delay your time to sleep. You want to feel full enough that your hunger won’t wake you up earlier than expected, but not so full that you struggle to fall asleep. Avoid fried, spicy and oily foods in your pre sleep meal as these can cause digestive issues which can also affect your sleep.
#5 Sleep time
Getting enough good quality sleep during the day can be really challenging, especially if you have other family members home during the day or have to deal with noisy neighbours or the bustling traffic.
It may take some time to figure out what works best for you - but for most having a relaxing wind down routine can promote better quality sleep. Things you can do include having a warm, relaxing bath, reading a book, or doing some light stretching or yoga. And you guessed this one - avoid screen time.
Other Tips for Sleeping Better:
- Introduce Moon Mylk to your nighttime routine. Containing ingredients such as ashwagandha, camu camu & magnesium, Moon Mylk has been designed to help you relax, unwind and have a better quality sleep.
- Introduce black out curtains or an eye mask.
- Try using YouTube to listen to white or brown noise, which can help you to fall asleep faster and increase the quality of your sleep .
- Having a cooler room (around 18 degrees) can allow you to get a more restful sleep