Let’s be real. The graveyard shift can wreak havoc to your biological processes. There is no sugar-coating this fact despite the increasing number of workers, including those in the call center industry, choosing to work at night time.Studies show that disruptions to circadian rhythms, also known as the body clock, can lead to excessive fatigue, hormonal changes and metabolic disorders leading to obesity or diabetes, or both. Fortunately, a healthy lifestyle can mitigate the adverse impact of staying up all night. Always keep in mind the three pillars of health: a healthy diet, adequate rest and regular exercise. If you’re a graveyard employee, or soon-to-be one, here are simple tips to survive the graveyard shift through healthy meals.
Healthy Finger Foods
People who stay up late working or studying are more likely to crave high-calorie foods. This is why you keep thinking about burgers and pizzas while pulling an all-nighter. Thus, graveyard shifters like call center workers and nurses are exposed to obesity and related diseases. Instead of dialing pizza delivery, you can prepare your own healthy evening snacks. Ditch potato chips for real boiled potatoes. You can also cut apples, papaya, and strawberries, and pack them in small containers in your fridge. Feast on fruits whenever your brain switches the hunger button on. You can try carrot sticks, cucumbers, and melons. The more colorful your fruit-vegetable snacks are, the better.
Grow your Own Food
Healthy living doesn’t need to be expensive. While it’s true that organic produce is a little more costly that most supermarket choices, you know that the long-term benefits are all worth it. Explore vertical indoor farms which allow you to grow spinach, celery, and other leafy goodies. There are a number of startups that integrate aeroponics or the process of growing plants in a misting environment. Some use mobile apps to help growers monitor plant growth. What can be cooler than preparing a salad from your own harvest?
Eat lots of Antioxidants
Antioxidants are molecules able to control free radical chain reactions from exposure to chemicals, pollution, and other toxins. Many graveyard workers turn to cigarette smoking, too much caffeine, and sleeping pills to control their sleep-wake cycles. This increases their risk to diseases. With antioxidants, your body is equipped to repair cell damage caused by free radicals. Strawberries, cranberries, walnuts, and prunes are high in antioxidants. You can also prepare a healthy wrap for your lunch in the office with the following antioxidant-rich ingredients:
- Turkey-Boursin wrap
- Grated or chopped cabbage, plum tomatoes, and carrots; Boursin; a dash of garlic and parsley; and lean turkey strips.
- Barley and black bean salad
- Boiled black beans, chopped tomatoes; a mix of lemon juice, cheese, and cilantro; and a dash of red pepper flakes.
Know what to avoid
Stay productive at past 2 a.m. by eating the right foods and avoiding those that can aggravate the impact of working at night. Burgers and fried foods can be enticing midnight snacks but these are also the top causes of heartburn and indigestion, as well as heart diseases in the long run. Thinking of a trip to your favorite coffee shop for a tall mug of sugary coffee? Think again. Your energy level may spike at the first hours of your shift, but beware once it drops. You’d feel drowsy and sluggish. If you need a kick before your shift, you can pack an energy bar or have a small cup of brewed coffee. Avoid alcohol at all costs and don’t make the mistake of consuming more than 400 mg of caffeine. The Dietitians of Canada shares the caffeine content (per 250 ml cup) of some of common drinks: Coffee (80-180 mg); decaf coffee (3-15 mg); tea (43-60 mg); herbal tea (0 mg); cola (30 mg); energy drink (80-125 mg).
Eating Guidelines for Night Employees
If you plan to apply for a call center job, it’s a wise move to make your preparations early. Understand the consequence of the graveyard shift lifestyle and exert efforts to reduce its adverse effects on your health. The Dietitians of Canada shares tips for shift workers in terms of healthy eating:
- If you’re rendering work from 8 p.m. onward, have your main meal at around 6 p.m. Take a pack of apple cubes or carrot sticks or an energy bar for your light snacks throughout your shift. According to Dietitians of Canada, heavy meals at night can lead to heartburn, gas, constipation, and feeling of sleepiness and sluggishness.
- Drink lots of water to help you stay alerted. You can substitute coffee for low-fat milk, herbal tea or vegetable juice.
- For your carbohydrates, choose brown rice or rolled oats.
- After work, have a light snack. Try a bowl of whole-grain cereal with milk or a piece of whole grain toast with jam. It’s advisable to prepare your “dinner” before your shift and leave it in the fridge. Heat as necessary.
- Set your meals at specific hours throughout the night. This will help regulate your circadian rhythm even when you’re awake all night. It’s hard to stick to a regular diet if you eat very late at night or throughout a shift.
- Eat slowly. Take your time. Enjoy your lunch break with co-workers. If you can, have dinner with family and friends at least once a week. This is not only good for your physical health but to your overall well-being.
The graveyard shift can be a challenge for first-timers. Expect sleep interruptions, heartburns, and fatigue. However, there are people who need to render night work such as nurses, firefighters and police officers. There are also those who are more productive at night such as writers and artists. Explore healthy living tips for graveyard workers and stick to a regimen. At the end of the day, it’s all about discipline.