If you work at night, you know that it is much different than working during the day. Of course, when it’s very dark outside there are certain things you need to keep in mind and when you work when most people are asleep you need to make sure your mind is alert and ready for your shift.
Some people enjoy working at night, but for most of us it is less than enjoyable and our minds aren’t fully awake. But that doesn’t have to stop you from doing your job well.
Whether you work night shifts, stay up late to finish coursework or just find yourself having to stay at the office late once in a while, these tips can help you stay safe and be productive, no matter what time it is.
Rise and Shine
One of the best things you can do to prepare for a late-night shift is get up two hours before you need to be at work. This gives your mind a chance to wake up and get going so you will be alert and ready to be productive at work. Being awake before you head out the door is also a safety issue; when you are alert you will be a better driver. If your work is dangerous, it is important to be completely awake so you can remember to take the necessary safety precautions while on the clock.
Try to get into a proper sleeping routine by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. If you need to adjust your sleeping habits before you start working at night, start the routine a few weeks early to give yourself plenty of time to adjust.
Don’t watch television or use your laptop or smartphone right before you go to bed, research has shown that these activities, and even the light emitted from some gadgets, keep you from being able to unwind, which makes it harder to get a good night’s rest.
Start with a Hearty Meal
One of the reasons breakfast is the most important meal of the day is because it helps your mind and body wake up and it gets your metabolism going so you can be productive all day. If you sleep during the day and work graveyard shifts, you can still use this tactic; eating a hearty meal when you wake up will help you prepare for a night of work.
Even if you don’t sleep during the day, eating a hearty meal can have the same effect on your mind and body. Make time to sit down and eat something nutritious and filling before you attempt to work late at night.
Steer Clear of Caffeine and Energy Drinks
While caffeine and energy drinks may seem like a good idea to help you stay awake when you work late, they can actually backfire. These drinks aren’t very healthy for you and usually make you crash harder and sleep heavier when you lay down for a nap. While this might be okay in some circumstance, it can ruin your sleeping routine and make it harder for you to work late on a regular basis.
This same concept holds true with sugary snacks, like chocolate and candy. While these are tasty and can give you a jolt of energy, it is energy that won’t last long. Snacks like these don’t pack a lot of nutrition so they won’t help you in the long run.
However, eating the right kinds of snacks throughout your shift will keep your blood sugar at optimal levels, giving you more energy and helping you stay awake. Opt for healthy snacks like nuts, fruits and grains that won’t make you crash later and are better for your overall health.
Always Use Proper Lighting
When you travel to work and when you arrive or begin working, it is very important that you use proper lighting. Good lighting will not only make your job easier but will also help you stay safe.
As you travel, carry a flashlight with you. You could invest in a large one that can light up a broad area or you could find a small model that fits in your pocket or bag. Lighting, in the form of lamps and utility lights, is important as you work. Good lighting can help you avoid eyestrain and injuries. If your work is manual or detail oriented, the right lighting for the job becomes especially important.
Lighting can also help you set your body’s natural clock, so when you work in proper lighting you can stay awake, even though it is night and very dark outside.
Listen to Music and Take Breaks
If you are allowed to listen to music, turning on some tunes may help you through your shift or pull an all-night session for that homework assignment. The right kind of music can actually help you be more productive. You may need to experiment with different genres and beats to find one that doesn’t distract you but keeps you alert and active. Music can also help you avoid dozing off if things get too quiet.
However, remember to keep safety precautions in mind if you listen to music. When you travel, if you work outdoors or if you work in a dangerous environment, do not use ear buds to listen to music and keep the volume down. While ear buds are definitely convenient, they can be a safety hazard because they make it hard, or even impossible, for you to hear what is happening around you, making you less aware of dangerous situations.
Whenever possible, take quick breaks throughout your shift. Some people prefer to take a break every hour while others only stop for a mid-shift break. The idea of taking breaks is to clear your mind and help you refocus. If you can, stand up and stretch or even take a walk. Then, when you return to the task at hand you will be even more productive.
Even if you don’t enjoy working at night, it’s possible to make it a little more pleasant and productive. These tips can help you survive your late shift and even help you stay safe.
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