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How to work night shift and stay healthy: 5 tips to consider

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People across a variety of industriesincluding those in transportation – may work an overnight shift, often called third shift. Working third shift often comes with higher pay and a quieter work environment.

While there are many benefits of working third shift, it’s important to be mindful of your health when working overnight. Here are a few pieces of advice on how to work night shift and stay healthy. 

5 ways to stay healthy while working overnight 

1. Take time to adjust.

When you start working overnight, your normal schedule gets completely flipped around. Now, you’re sleeping when it’s light outside and awake when it’s dark. This takes some time to get used to. 

Allow your mind and body to adjust to the different work hours. You can do this by: 

  • Allowing yourself to have extra down time.
  • Getting more sleep.
  • Eating healthy foods.
  • Drinking lots of water.

2. Maintain a routine.

Try to stay on a consistent schedule of sleeping and other activities. Sticking to a regular routine, even on your weekends, will help you stay happy and healthy.

Plan when you’ll complete household chores, like cooking and cleaning, and when you’ll run your errands.

You may also want to incorporate some self-care practices into your normal routine. Some ideas involving self-care for night shift workers include:

  • Doing yoga.
  • Meditating.
  • Exercising.
  • Journaling.
  • Reading.
  • Napping.

3. Get enough uninterrupted sleep. 

It’s recommended all adults sleep 7-9 hours daily. This rule of thumb applies to people working overnight shifts, too.

Getting enough sleep boosts both physical and mental health, which will also benefit your work performance while on the job. Try practicing the following measures to help get the recommended amount of uninterrupted sleep:

  • Go to sleep at the same time every day.
  • Limit your caffeine intake before bed.
  • Invest in a good set of blackout curtains.
  • Stay off electronic devices right before bed.
  • Put your phone on silent.

4. Keep a consistent meal schedule. 

With a unique work schedule, night shift workers may not eat the typical breakfast, lunch and dinner that most people do – and that’s OK! There are still plenty of ways to maintain a healthy diet.

You can save money and time by packing food ahead of time. Some healthy food for night shift workers includes: 

  • Fruit.
  • Vegetables.
  • Trail mix.
  • Granola bars.
  • Yogurt.
  • Salads.
  • Chicken.
  • Turkey.
  • Fish.
  • Hard-boiled eggs.
  • Whole-grain bread.

It’s also important to drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. 

Consider eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day instead of having only three standard meals. Whatever works for you, take the time to make healthy choices. 

5. Stay active.

Take care of your physical and mental health by exercising regularly. This could mean going for a walk after your shift or hitting the gym before work.  

Figure out a workout routine that suits you and stick with it – your body and brain will thank you. 

Optimize your energy

Maintaining your energy while working an overnight shift can be challenging. Check out our blog on how to manage your energy at work to stay happy and healthy. 
About the author
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Ashley is a Senior Campus Recruiter who started her journey at Schneider in 2015. Over the years, she has been involved in many special projects and operating plans that have helped the company's recruiting efforts. Ashley also oversees Schneider's Summer Internship Program: She enjoys working with colleges and students all over the country! Outside of work, Ashley is very busy attending her four children's sporting events and activities. She also loves biking, gardening and going on supper club dates with her husband.

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