Millions of people have to work night shift and this will clearly be affecting their body’s digestive cycles.
The common problems that many night shift workers face are:
• Stress – Irregular working hours and pressure to perform better contribute to high stress and sometimes it could be even traumatic.
• Disorders – Various disorders like insomnia, fatigue and disorientation accompany night work
• Obesity – Physical inactivity, excessive eating, wrong food choices and irregular eating habits make one gain weight
• Gastrointestinal and digestive problems – Wrong eating habits contribute to indigestion, stomachache, heartburn and loss of appetite
• Cardiovascular diseases and blood pressure — Night shift workers are more prone to cardiovascular problems
• Behavioral and emotional disturbances – Night shift working causes many disturbances in one’s life like depression, decline in self esteem and resentment, anxiety, hopelessness, withdrawal from social interactions, strong urge to cry without specific incident, avoidance of previously enjoyed activities, phobia, fears and unwanted thoughts.
With a few essential changes, night shift workers can avoid the health complications of shift works and ease adverse symptoms. A healthy lifestyle and, most importantly, right nutrition choices help you save yourself from the adverse effects of night shift work.
Here are some quick tips to help you maintain as healthy a lifestyle as possible whilst working night shift.
• Drinking at least two liters of water a day helps in improving digestion. Lack of water intake results in thirst headaches and fatigue.
• Eat small frequent nutritionally balanced meals during your night shift. Don’t continue to hold off eating and then have one huge meal at the end. Have small frequent meals.
• There are conflicting opinions as to what proportion of foods should be consumed (i.e. proteins, fats, carbohydrates). The issues come down to whether you want to eat to allow you to do your job properly during the night-shift, or eat so as to limit the negative effects on your body’s digestive system. Your body finds it harder to digest meat after the digestive process slows down at night. So you should not be having too much protein.
• Also important make sure that during the day you eat adequately and frequently, this will make you better prepared for the night shift. Avoid a huge meal before going to work, eat frequently through the day.
• With night shift work there is the disruption of your natural cycle and you would make it worse by consuming lots of caffeine and junk food. Avoid caffeine as much as you can.
• Sleep immediately after night shift. Don’t delay this at all. Also sleep in night-time conditions. This means having no light in the place you are sleeping. At night time, your body produces melatonin, which increases drowsiness. In daylight this is suppressed. You may also have some warm milk as this contains L-tryptophan which can help to induce sleep.
• When going to sleep, switch of your cellphone and your landline and any other distractions. Don’t rely on sleeping tablets as they have negative side-effects and are addictive.
• During the day time, try to get half-an-hour’s moderate exercise.
• So the best guidance is to eat sensibly through the day and to eat small frequent and well-combined meals through the night, consuming only healthy and well combined food, as well as getting immediate and quality sleep straight after your work.
The aim is not to tax your body’s digestive process too much during the night with too much or bad food.
In other words, you are already at a disadvantage by working night shift, so your approach should be to limit the negative effects of that as much as possible by following the guidelines above.