Not all heroes wear capes. In the era of Coronavirus, most of them are wearing hospital scrubs, police blues, military camo and grocery store name tags. With COVID 19 changing the world as we know it, we’ve been asking more and more of the once-forgotten workforce that has now taken center stage. With so much demand for nurses, doctors, officers and store clerks, they are being asked to work night shifts, overtime and more strenuous work during regular hours. If you are one of these people who are being asked to work the night shift, back-to-backs or third shift hours for the first time, you might be struggling to get through it while maintaining your high standard of performance. We’re here to help.
It might seem backwards but napping before your shift can make you more alert and energized on the job. Getting 30 minutes of sleep before clocking in can help start your shift of strong. The restful periods don’t stop there. If you can slip away during your shift for one or two shorter naps, this will help keep your energy close to peak levels throughout the night shift. Grabbing a few 10 to 20-minute naps can keep your mind focused and your body well-rested.
Of course, you’re going to reach for some caffeine to get through the shift but make sure you’re being careful. Drinking too much coffee throughout your shift can back-load your energy, making it hard to get to sleep when you get off shift. Consider caffeine pills to keep you going. Taking a caffeine pill at the start of your shift can eliminate carrying around a coffee mug and sipping on it all-shift long.
Try caffeine naps. It takes about 20 minutes for caffeine to get to your bloodstream, so pop a caffeine pill right before you take one of those mid-shift naps we talked about earlier. Wake up in 20 minutes and you’ll not only be rested, but you’ll be properly caffeinated and ready to own your shift.
You might be used to eating one big lunch to get you through your normal workday but working the night shift isn’t like the normal workday. Eating smaller portions more often can help you stay awake for a few reasons. First, smaller meals can help avoid the dreaded food coma. You’re probably familiar with that unwavering grogginess that can attack after a nice big meal. Obviously, that’s no good if you’re trying to stay awake overnight. Second, while it is yet unproven, there is reason to believe that digestion can make it harder for you to fall asleep. Normally, that’s a bad thing, but you can use it to your advantage by eating lighter meals more often and snacking when you feel small hunger pangs.
You also want to make sure you’re eating the right things. Fast food can look (and smell) like a good option when you’re tired and in need of nourishment right away. But carb-heavy foods can cause a blood sugar spike which can lead to an energy crash soon after eating. Try to pack meals with protein to go along with your carbs, and always try to get fruits and vegetables with your meals. If you don’t have time to cook, grocery stores often have health-conscious meals prepared or on the shelf.