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Well at Work

5 Health Tips for Night Shift Workers

Keith Brofsky / Thinkstock

Shift workers who work three or more night shifts per month are up to 60 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people who work fewer night shifts, according to a new study from Harvard's School of Public Health.

The findings support previous research showing that night shift workers are more likely to be overweight and have high levels of insulin and inflammation, all of which contribute to diabetes risk.

Brianna Wilson, a Core Performance nutritionist who works with shift workers at C&S Wholesale Grocers, shared the following tips to help you stay healthy while working the night shift.

1. Opt for more steady rotations.

When signing up for shifts, see if you can work a steady rotation for several weeks at a time instead of changing every week. This will help you create a more stable pattern and avoid changing your working, sleeping, and eating patterns multiple times a month.

2. Sleep when you can.

The average person needs about eight hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. If you can't sleep for that long in one stretch after work, try to take naps during the day that add up to the recommended eight hours. Before you dismiss the idea of napping, check out our 10-part series on the latest advances in nap technology and simple tips to add a nap to your day.

3. Avoid energy drinks.

Downing energy drinks to stay awake will only make you crash harder later, plus they're filled with extreme levels of caffeine and other ingredients that can negatively affect your health. Drink tea and coffee for a more natural caffeine kick, and drink plenty of water.

4. Set up a proper sleep environment.

The right environment can help you sleep longer and sounder. Make your bedroom as comfortable as possible by blocking out sunlight with blackout curtains or an eye mask to shade your eyes. Mute street noise with ear plugs or a white noise machine.

5. Keep a consistent eating schedule.

Sleep deprivation disturbs your appetite, which leads to increased feelings of hunger and weight gain. Eat dinner before starting your shift, and snack every two to three hours during it to stay focused and energized. This way you won't be tempted to eat a heavy meal at the end of your shift.

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Tags: Sleep, Health, Work