If you work the night shift or rotating shifts, the changing schedule can be such a drag. Your body is wired to be naturally awake during the morning and asleep at night, so working while the moon is up is a challenge even for puyatan experts. Body clocks take time to adjust, activities outside work suffer, and sometimes, even relationships become compromised. It’s hard. But you have to do it because that’s what’s required.
But, working during the night shift has its rewards and challenges. Aside from a bigger payout, there’s also less traffic jams, quieter surroundings, and other obscure advantages. All you need is to adjust and adapt. To help you out, here are some practical tips to not just survive, but actually thrive in that life.
1) Invest in blackout curtains and an air-conditioning system for your room
First and foremost, you must establish a sleep-friendly, comfy, and cozy bedroom. “Sleeping in an environment that simulates nighttime is essential for your body to feel like it fulfilled its full sleep cycle, and investing in blackout curtains and an air-conditioning system for your room do just that,” says Mark Nichol T. Turija, Content Marketing Specialist for JobStreet Philippines. “Also, sleeping during the daytime on the summer months is especially challenging, so you have to make sure where you sleep is cool enough for comfort.” Complete sleep is important, because lack of it will make you ill-tempered when it’s time to work. And nobody likes a grouchy officemate.
2) Lay off the alcohol after the shift
Shots after work? Say pass starting now. “It is a common practice for night shift-ers to be with the entire group after a stressful day at work and go through a bucket of beer. The isang bote lang invitation never stops as promised and usually ends up being an all-out binge. This is not to say that alcohol is a no-no, though,” Turija says. “But like their day shift counterparts, night shift workers should know how to limit their alcohol intake when they know they have work the next day. Getting wasted may have to be relegated to the eves of day-offs.”
3) Get into a system with family and friends
Turija also advices that you should inform family and friends of your shifts beforehand, so that your social calendar—where they are included—will be synchronized. “Just because you’re in the night shift, it doesn’t mean you can’t have time for friends or fail to attend important family events. Some constants, like sending kids to school at a certain time or weekend bonding with the barkada, can be worked out since they often have a schedule,” Turija shares.
4) Don’t give in to the temptation of compensating through food
We’re all guilty of pigging out when the situation becomes too demanding. This is called stress eating. “With increased stress levels, people working during the night have a compulsion to eat through their feelings or consume food to drown out any negative vibes. Unfortunately, this is also the same for sex, with DOH reporting an increase of HIV cases among night shift workers. Night shift workers need to look into healthier ways of coping with the stresses of their work and schedule,” Turija explains.
5) Stop being toxic
This does not just apply to night shift workers, but also to everyone in general. “When it’s time to work, leave all the problems at home behind," Turija notes. "As soon as you step out of the office, don’t bring the stress you've accumulated during your shift. When it’s time to bond with your officemates, stop bringing up how your supervisor is micromanaging and how you wish you can have a regular, boring job. That attitude will never bring you success as a night shift employee.”