A computer-driven workforce, along with long working hours, has led to an increase in the number of employees working night shifts.
Working at night has its benefits. For one, you don’t get to deal with the frustrating rush-hour traffic. Plus, the work environment is much more peaceful at night. However, night shifts may have disastrous effects on your health.
Besides having a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases, night shift workers are more likely to gain weight.
Most night shift workers drink and eat as a strategy for staying alert at night. Moreover, convenience store purchases, vending machines, and high-fat foods are the only available ones in the middle of the night. I may also note that long working hours cause fatigue, which may trigger binge eating.
Additionally, research has proven that hormonal weight gain is more likely when we eat large meals at night.
Therefore, it is highly crucial for shift workers to watch what they eat at night. And for those who are already overweight, the weight loss tricks below will help you reach your weight goal.
Weight Loss Tricks for Night Shift Workers
1. Get More Melatonin in Your System
Instead of loading your system with sleeping pills, you should consider melatonin as a viable alternative. Melatonin is a naturally-occurring sleep hormone secreted by the pineal gland. It is an antioxidant for the human brain and works to slow the brain down as regular sleeping hours approach.
Go for foods that will promote melatonin production. Such foods are usually rich in tryptophan and include peanut butter, milk, and turkey.
Alternatively, you can take this natural melatonin supplement.
2. Watch How Much Caffeine You Take
Caffeine effectively blocks the synthesis of melatonin right at the genetic level. It is a stimulant that persists for several hours after your last sip. Therefore, give your body approximately 6-8 hours to process caffeine.
If you leave work around 6 am to sleep by 8 am, take your last cup of caffeine-rich beverage around 1 am. Yes, it may seem drastic to you. But that means you need to find other ways to stay alert when working at night.
You can listen to upbeat music or get up and walk around for 10-20 minutes to stay alert.
3. Switch Off TV Screens and Smartphone
Blue light from your smartphone or TV can cause your body to remain alert, thus stimulating the breakdown of melatonin. Turn off these devices at least 30 minutes before you go to sleep.
You can listen to a podcast or an audiobook as you can keep your eyes closed safely from light rays. You will find it easier to drift off to dreamland this way.
You can also create a dark room by using blackout curtains. This will enhance the quality of your sleep significantly.
4. Eat Healthy Foods at Night
Choosing healthy foods during your night shift is highly crucial to your overall health. Stay away from sugary desserts as these can lead to blood sugar fluctuations. Also, take note of any food you consume that makes you feel drowsy, especially after a couple of hours.
Cut down on your portions of rice, potatoes, bread, etc. so that your blood sugars can stabilize.
Keeping your blood sugar levels will not only curb your cravings but also boost your focus and alertness at night.
5. Cut off Some Calories from Your Diet
This study found that people who ate meals between 11 pm and 5 am consumed up to more 500 calories daily compared those who limited their calorie intake to daytime hours.
Additionally, nighttime eaters gained 6.2kgs (13.6lbs) more than non-nighttime eaters.
Reduce your calorie intake by eliminating high-calorie foods from your diet.
6. Increase the Intake of Vitamins
Deficiency of B vitamins – such as niacin, folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 – can cause low melatonin production. Mineral deficiencies – i.e. zinc, magnesium, etc. – can also bring about the same effect. Low levels of serotonin can be very problematic as it is the harbinger of melatonin synthesis.
People with depression also have sleep issues as a result of decreased melatonin synthesis. So, you need to make sure that you get these essential nutrients in your system. This will help you to stay healthy while you are on a night shift.
7. Forgo Alcohol
Alcohol is a great deterrent to the synthesis of melatonin, which is the best sleep hormone in the human body. Therefore, do away with any alcoholic drink that may cause you to have problems sleeping later on. You can have seltzer water or decaffeinated tea instead.
8. Smart Snacking Does It
Snacking a little during night shifts is important, but do not use food as a distraction to help you stay awake. Those additional calories can result in unnecessary weight gain.
Snack smartly by limiting yourself to two healthy snacks and a good meal while on a night shift. You can eat two other meals outside of work.
9. Make Sleep A Priority
When you do the same things – at least one hour – before bedtime, you are gradually programming sleep triggers. Your brain will, over time, start associating those things with bedtime. Thus, it will fast-track you into a fat-burning slumber right after your night shift even though others around you are active.
Sleep triggers may include listening to a podcast or relaxing music, taking a hot shower, meditating, etc.
10. Never Skimp on Regular Exercise
The next priority for weight loss hopefuls – after regular, high-quality sleep – is frequent exercise. This is highly critical as workouts help you get closer to your weight loss goal.
Moreover, exercise also promotes sound sleep. Therefore, it will be an excellent idea to sneak in a few indoor workouts. Follow this sequence if you want to burn fat and build muscle while exercising for less than 15 minutes a day.
11. Lay Off Sugary Drinks
Avoid sugary drinks as much as possible. Peak blood sugar levels are at least 16 percent higher among individuals who do night shift work, research shows. This was revealed via a study conducted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Although the study sample was small, the findings were incredibly insightful. It helped the researchers to know why shift work heightened people’s risk for obesity.
12. Create a Schedule for Meals
Carve out a schedule and take note of the meals that help you stay active and healthy while working shifts.
Working night shifts may have slowed down your metabolism by disrupting your circadian rhythm. Luckily, maintaining a regular meal schedule can help balance your circadian rhythm.
Don’t let working night shifts interfere with your weight loss goals. Use the incredible weight loss tricks above to reach your ideal weight and maintain it.
Note that it’s much easier to lose weight and keep it off if you combine a healthy diet with exercise. And the best part is you don’t have to exercise for hours to stay in shape.
Doing short 10 to 15-minute workouts every day can help you build a breathtaking body. Therefore, add these short fat-burning workouts to your daily routine.