Day shift work
It can be lonely, tiring, and disruptive to your personal life working shifts, especially if you often switch from one type of shift to another (i.e., Early to Late to Nights). This research indicates that shift workers, particularly women are at increased risk of poor mental health, particularly depressive symptoms. How well we cope with shift work depends on our individual characteristics and responsibilities. However, we can cope better with shift work by making small and manageable steps.
Take a look at the apps below to help look after your mental wellbeing as a shift worker.
1. Relax Melodies
Relax Melodies combines sounds and melodies with guided meditation to help you unwind and ease into sleep after your shift.
2. White Noise
White Noise is a sleep app that plays sounds such as the sound of the ocean, a burning campfire, and rain. These sounds can help sleep come more easily.
3. Sleep Cycle
Put your phone under your pillow to use Sleep Cycle. It tracks your sleep pattern through noises and movements you make whilst sleeping, and then analyses the data to indicate the quality and quantity of sleep you got. It can also wake you up gently, when you are naturally closest to being awake in your sleep cycle.
Healthy eating and exercising apps
1. Diets Suck
This app doesn't promote unrealistic and often unhealthy diets. Instead, it reminds you of healthy habits that you can easily do each day, such as drinking a glass of water at lunch.
2. Change4Life Food Scanner
Scan the barcode on food packaging to see how many cubes of sugar its content equates to. This can help you buy less sugary foods!
3. Daily Butt Workout
This fun workout app targets solely your bottom! You can choose 5- or 10-minute sessions that include exercises, such as squats. There is a video and description for each exercise to help.
4. 7-Minute Workout
With time feeling limited when working shifts, this app offers a whole-body workout in just 7 minutes. The workouts include a combination of strength and cardio exercises to suit everyone.
Apps to help with your work/life balance
1. My Shift Planner
Ensuring you have time to be social, whilst also working shifts can be difficult. My Shift Planner colour-codes your shifts so it is easy to see when you have time off. It also monitors overtime and hours worked, as well as your partner's working pattern using the Live Sharing and mutliple calendar options, so it is easier to plan your shared time off together.
Night shift work
Night shifts can be physically and mentally taxing.
Take a look at some resources to help you manage your wellbeing when working nights below.
- NHS advice about how to get to sleep, with audio guide about sleep problems, and tips to help you unwind.
- GSTT Sleep: Looking after your wellbeing has information about why sleep is so fundamental to health and social care staff, including risks to safety, and tips for staff and employers to adopt to reduce these risks.
Night Club is a transformational health and wellbeing programme that uses a unique learning environment and direct engagement between sleep scientists, workers and employers to improve health at work. Click on the icon to visit the website.
The award-winning evidence-based programme supports shift workers’ physical and mental health by offering a selection of practical tools, exercises and tips for workers to incorporate into their routines to help manage the negative mental and physical impacts of disrupted sleep patterns caused by shift work.
The programme works as a direct early intervention that gives individual workers the tools and knowledge to positively manage and change their behaviour to improve their health, whilst working closely with employers to adjust working practices and conditions to deliver longer-term change.
Night Club is not a generic health and wellbeing solution, it has been specifically designed for a live working environment and has achieved successful outcomes across retail, utilities, logistics and transport workforces. To find out how Night Club could work at your organisation, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from Night Club
Video: Advice for night shifts
British Medical Association advice for night shifts.
Tips for night shifts
Everyone will have tips and tricks that work better than others, and so the tips below are just suggestions. To look after yourself as best as you can, test different strategies to see what suits you.
Night shifts can upset your natural sleeping pattern and circadian rhythm. Adults typically require 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and it is often difficult to get that amount whilst working on nights. Research suggests that many healthcare staff are sleep deprived on a daily or weekly basis.
- Go to bed and wake up at your usual time
- Take a nap in the afternoon before your first night shift as this can boost energy levels
- After a night shift, set aside 7-9 hours to sleep
- Use ear plugs and an eye mask to block out the sounds and light during the day
- Eat and drink something before you go to sleep after a night shift so that hunger or thirst don't wake you up. Avoid alcohol and smoking as these substances cause worse sleep
- Put your phone on silent mode
- Tell your family and friends about your working hours so that they don't disturb you
- If you have worked several night shifts in a row, make sure you take time to sleep as this will help you recover faster.
- Aim to stick to a consistent routine during each shift.
- During breaks, have short (15 to 20 min) naps
- Don't drive home if tired, find somewhere to have a short nap
Work as a team to provide cover for breaks
Have a look at our dedicated Sleep page for further support and information.
Working night shifts can disrupt meal times and your diet.
- Stick to similar times that you normally eat at duirng the day
- Frequently eating light meals or healthy snacks during your shift can avoid drowsiness
- Planning meals can help with levels of alertness during your shift, and be more relaxed when resting
- Eat foods that are easily digestable such as salad, fruit, and vegetables, and avoid fried, spicy, sugary, and processed foods (i.e., high calorie, high fat, high carbohydrate foods)
- Drink water regularly.
- Going food shopping can be difficult when on night shifts. Prepare for this in advance and take food with you to work
- Monitor your caffeine intake. Although a coffee or a cup of tea can help you keep alert during a shift, don't consume too much as it could disrupt your sleep when you get home (caffeine shouldn't be consumed 6 hours before sleep).
Where possible, aim to minimise eating between midnight and 6 am.
Have a look at our dedicated Eating and Drinking Well page for further support and information about the benefits of a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Exercising whilst on night shifts can raise alert levels, avoid drowsiness and ensure you are keeping well.
- Go for a run, a walk, or bike ride before your shift starts to ensure you get some fresh air and sunshine during the day
- Avoid vigorous exercise after a night shift as exercise realses endorphins into your body, making you feel more awake, and thereby disrupting your sleeping pattern
- Exercise frequently and in short bursts so that your body feels ready for the night shift ahead and you are not exhausted before you start
- Try calming bed-time yoga after your night shift to help your mind and body relax before sleep
Have a look at our dedicated Exercise and Staying Active page for further support.
Setting aside time to see and speak to friends and family is important to make sure you still feel connected to others.
- Night shifts can be quieter than day shifts, so keep your body and mind working by walking around and speaking with your colleagues on shift
- Try not to watch the clock, as this can make the night feel like its dragging on
- During the day, arrange a time to spend time with family that suits you, or organise a coffee and a walk in the local park with a friend
- Make the most of your days off by being social
Have a look at our dedicated Connecting with Others page for support and information about why being social and staying connected is important.