Eating during night shift.

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Eating during night shift.

Postby sosso » Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:33 am

I'm a nurse and I will be starting night shifts in a few weeks. I have four in a row. The hours are 10pm - 7am.

I'm trying to work out when I'll sleep and eat. Should I not worry too much about it and just make sure I get all my meals and enough sleep during the 24 hours of each day? Does anyone here work nights and have a routine they stick to?
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Re: Eating during night shift.

Postby VeganGraham » Mon Mar 12, 2012 7:24 am

Not night shifts as such, but I'm on a shift rota; 4:30am to 1:00pm or 4:00pm to midnight.
This means that to try to keep to a sort of sleeping at night, awake in the day routine, one week I've got; work > sleep > free time, the next I've got work > free time > sleep.

From speaking to other people who have worked nights, I think your biggest decision working 10pm to 7am is going to be whether you sleep 8am to 4pm or 1pm to 9pm.
We've only got basic canteen facilities at work, a toaster and microwave, so I generally have a breakfast type meal when I get up (3am or 9am), a big cooked meal at home (2pm or 7pm) and snacks and packed lunch at work (10am or 8pm).
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Re: Eating during night shift.

Postby knackers » Tue Mar 13, 2012 3:09 am

I used to work shift quite frequently, a lot the time it was back and forth though like d/d/n/n/n or d/d/n/n but occasionally I would have the fun 4-5 nights in a row...

The night before my first night shift I would usually just have a late night and wake up early, than have a mid day nap from around 12 - 4-4:30 for a 7pm start. If I were you I would have the top up nap from around 3 - 7:30.

I have tried to go with out the topup nap and found I didn't feel as good.

Prepare to be angry coming off the nights, lol. Nothing like a bit of adjustment anger..

Also with food, I would eat any heavier meals early in the shift and have the lighter snacks/energy boosts towards the end of the shift.. like your dark chocolate etc, just to get you through the last few hours..

As for the days in between, mine were always 12 hour shifts so I would be back in bed within an hour or so of getting home to try and bag me 8hrs sleep, your shifts are longer so you have a couple of hours to spare before you go back to work....

BTW, fantasizing about killing your neighbour for mowing his lawn whilst you are trying to sleep and acting like a vampire trying shield all light from entering your room are both common side effects from working nightshift... :lol:
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Re: Eating during night shift.

Postby jpowell » Tue Mar 13, 2012 4:01 am

I work 6x8hr night shifts most weeks (22:30-06:30). I sought this out on purpose (for flexibility and for, at least in manufacturing in Australia, good money relative to the personal commitment involved). I know most people on night shifts may be doing it more out of a circumstance/necessity. I do fairly well with the following:

- We have 2x20min breaks so I try to take 1-2 x 10-15min naps. If I am tired, caffeine naps (the caffeine takes about that long to be metabolically processed/activated). For me, the best deal for napping is in my car with the seat back, a pillow and a block-out curtain. Sleeps under 15min long are worth their weight in gold. You don't wake up all tired like sudden waking from longer sleeps, and they can easily be as effective as adding a full 2hours to your main sleep. Obviously, make sure to set an alarm!
- Personally, I try to sleep by 07:30 unless I have something important to do in the morning, and I find this works much better than not sleeping until evening/afternoon (which some do), although if I have a short morning sleep sometimes I will have an afternoon nap (untimed) or a short evening nap. Longer naps in the evening seem to stuff my body clock and leave me very tired at work.

Food:
If you are eating a lot of protein, try to get it in through the day, not mostly in your meals at work. I am a believer in eating often anyway, but at night I am mostly quite light on protein. I usually eat some fresh fruit at my breaks. Occasionally, if I trained in the evening, I may have a protein shake before work or at my first break, 1 tin of lentils or some hommus.

I will then have a protein shake or small low carb meal before bed. I then eat 3-4 meals between first getting up (sometime between 1230 and 1430) and going to work. The nature of these can vary a lot with training (which I generally do late afternoon/early evening), but during this time I pack in quite a lot of protein (nuts, sesame, lentils, nutritional yeast, spirulina, protein powders, some soy products) and a pretty wide range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants (from foods, not pills).
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Re: Eating during night shift.

Postby sosso » Tue Mar 13, 2012 4:40 am

Thanks for the great advice. I think I'll sleep after I get home in the mornings until about 3, then wake up, eat, eat some more, eat again... then have some snacks during the night, come home and sleep, repeat...

I think before the first night shift, I'll wake up early-ish, as knackers suggested and then have another nap later in the day before starting. The first shift will probably be the worst.
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