How to Remain Healthy If You Work Night Shifts

Working night shifts can be difficult and maintaining a healthy daily schedule while doing so can be almost impossible. It is ever so easy to not sleep enough as you feel like you’re missing out on the days or to eat unhealthily because you are too tired to make food when you get home or before you go to work. Staying in your normal routine as much as possible helps you stay healthy while still working through your night shifts. If you are struggling when you are on nights or you are just about to start a job which involves night shifts, then here is how you can stay healthy.

Stop with the Coffee

While it’s easy enough to keep topping up with caffeine, the long term affects this habit are not worth the benefits. Coffee or other energy drinks can be filled with sugar and will therefore bring you crashing down harder. If you do tend to drink coffee, try and make it black to cut down on the amount of sugar you are having, or swap sugar for a sweetener. Also, only stick to having one cup of the stuff each night. Drinking too much caffeine can lead to addiction, which includes headaches and trouble sleeping when you do get home. Try to drink your coffee somewhere in the middle of your shift to give you that much needed boost. Drinking a cup too close to the end of your shift may make it harder to fall asleep.

Stick with an Eating Schedule

Everyone has different eating habits on night shifts and finding one that works best for you and your body means you won’t feel sluggish during your shift. Try to eat as normally as possible throughout the day as, during the night, your digestion begins to slow down. This can be difficult, but eating breakfast before you go to sleep can help you feel less hungry when you wake. Eating too much during a night shift will inevitably lead to weight gain. While on nights you should eat three meals a day, including a healthy snack between each of these meals. During your night shift try not to have huge meals and instead have small and healthy snacks to keep you going. Finding regular eating times for when you’re working and a better sleep schedule mean that your body can become used to a pattern and your metabolism will run smoother. Whatever you do, do not skip meals as this can leave you exhausted and really slow down that metabolism.

Don’t Let Yourself Be Tempted

While it can be extremely difficult to have the willpower to say no, it is important that you learn to do so. It is all too easy to fall into the habits of drinking coffee after coffee alongside biscuits and other snacks, and this is a habit you need to break out of if you want to stay healthy. While the occasional treat is fine, try to stick to healthy options wherever possible as constant unhealthy snacking will just leave you feeling more sluggish in the long run. Taking your own meals ready to eat or cook means that you will be less tempted to get a takeout or go to the vending machines. Snacking every few hours can help keep you going without feeling too full.


Prepping meals before you start your shifts can be the best option as it means that you do not have to worry when waking up that you still have to cook before work. If you have a partner or flat mate that can help whilst you are on nights, ask them to make extra portions of meals and save them for you, and you can always return the favor and make them meals when you are not on nights. It’s hard to balance everything while working nights, and waking up knowing you haven’t made your meals for work yet and you still need to wash your uniform can be enough to make you want to cry. Investing in a slow cooker is another great idea as you can throw in your food and let it simmer whilst you sleep. Have plenty of previous meals in your freezer that can be used on night shifts for those days where you just don’t have enough time.

Stock Up on Good Foods

If you struggle to avoid unhealthy snacking, then the best option is to not buy any food that will tempt you. Ensure that you stock up on snacks that are healthy and that you enjoy. This means when temptation hits you can fill yourself with something good. In the long run this will make you feel much better than reaching for that bar of chocolate. If your children or partner have unhealthy options in the house, this is the perfect time to get the whole house eating healthier and looking for better alternatives. This could be as simple as swapping your white bread for whole wheat and ditching the fizzy drinks. If you are unsure on where to start with healthy snacks, here are 121 easy snacks no matter what you like to eat.


Remaining in your normal exercise routine can help with energy levels whilst working night shifts. If you do not regularly exercise, then now is the time to do so. This doesn’t have to be a lot but getting active can really help with energy levels and leave you feeling much better both physically and mentally. While you may not want to exercise as hard, even doing a home workout can help. On your day off, make sure that you schedule some time to do a workout, go swimming, go for a walk or take a class at your local gym. If working out after your shift is a definite no, try to work out beforehand. This can take some getting used to but before you know it you will feel better than ever while working nights. If exercising is hard for you while working nights, then try to be more active in other ways such as not sitting around too much on your night shift or taking the stairs rather than the elevator. Even doing a few squats before bed and when you wake up can make a difference. Anything minor can help with energy levels and aid in you sleeping much better through the day when you get home.

Getting a Restful Sleep

Sleeping through the day can be much harder as there are usually more distractions. Make sure that you get earplugs if you have noisy neighbors or children at home. You need to be getting restful sleep and this means sleeping through, rather than constantly being woken up. It may be worth investing in some blinds that completely black out your bedroom so that the natural light doesn’t break up your sleeping pattern. You should also aim for as much sleep as you would usually get at night. Don’t look at your cell phone either as this can mess with your sleeping pattern and keep you awake. If you are a nurse doing night shifts it can sometimes be difficult to switch off after a long difficult shift. If you are looking for something different, perhaps you should consider these online masters in nursing degrees. These can be done completely online while you work, and they open up many opportunities for nurses including roles such as Nursing Educator and Family Nurse Practitioner so you can get away from the night shifts and back into a regular pattern. This is a good option for those who considering having a family and will, therefore, have other family commitments.

Drink Enough Water

Many night shift workers do not drink enough, and this is due to the fact they rush around while at work and then sleep through the day. Getting enough water means you will stay energized, and it will also keep your skin fresh and reduce the risk of urinary tract infections. It can be difficult to keep on top of this so always try to take a bottle of water to work with you and make sure you keep topping up during your shift. It is no good waiting until you go home and drinking a lot of water just before you are about to settle into bed, as this will lead to you waking up and it will not keep you properly hydrated.

Following these steps can help you to remain healthy, both physically and mentally, during night shifts. Don’t forget to prepare well before your shifts so that you have plenty of meal options in. Try to ditch the caffeine dependency as this will leave you feeling much better in the long run and be a great aid in sleeping. When sleeping during the day, try to limit all distractions and aim to mimic night time in your bedroom as much as possible. Don’t forget to stay hydrated and exercise regularly, and you will feel much better during and after your night shifts.