10 Tips for Shift Work Nutrition

shift work

There are many professions that fall into the daily grind of a 9-to-5 routine. However, many industries rely on the efforts that are placed outside of that realm, which is considered shift work. These jobs revolve around evening, night, and early morning shifts. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 15% of full time workers in the United States work outside of the traditional schedule.

Shift work can lead to a number of difficulties for those who make this a routine, which are referred to as Shift Work Disorder.

A few of the symptoms of Shift Work Disorder according to the National Sleep Foundation are:

  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Insomnia or inability to sleep when you need to
  • Insufficient sleep
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of energy
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Difficulty with personal relationships

Connection to Diet:

Eating habits and exercise do not have to be compromised due to your work schedule. It is important to avoid skipping meals and seeking a quick fix with fast food. Poor habits lead to a wide variety of health issues including weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease. Keeping a balanced diet is crucial in sustaining a healthy lifestyle despite the irregular work hours.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends these 10 tips for healthy eating:

  1. Have healthy food available at home and work
  2. Prepare meals before work
  3. Bring your own food to avoid temptations
  4. Eat smaller meals throughout the day instead of one large meal
  5. Eat in line with a regular day
  6. Sit down to eat
  7. Limit caffeine consumption
  8. Drink plenty of water
  9. Exercise moderately
  10. Get the sleep you need

Above all else, workers need to prioritize sleep. The disruption to the body’s natural cycle can make it difficult to make up the time. Consider setting aside more than the recommended time for sleep to avoid any interruptions or stress. But most importantly, be sure to keep safety your number one priority. This includes making sure you can do your job or drive home without being too fatigued. Take breaks to walk around and loosen up. Do not be afraid to speak with your employer about any concerns. Reach out to your doctor if you feel that you suffer from Shift Work Disorder.

Reference the link below for more information on Shift Work Disorder from the National Sleep Foundation: