Truckers tips

Be Prepared for the Night Shift Chill

No, you are not going nuts. The 3am chills are real. Our bodies naturally cool down to persevere energy, basically going into hibernation mode for the night. The reason for this tip is to bring a jacket/sweater/vest and be prepared to feel cooler around 3-4am… The good news is, it won’t happen when you least expect it!

Don’t Skip Your Break

I have skipped my break on night shift more than a few times because the unit was absolutely horrible. But I can tell you, I was no good to anybody. You are not a “hero” because you skipped your break and worked harder. I know you want to be a team player when the chips are down, but the reality is you need to rest, eat, drink and use the bathroom – even for a couple of minutes to reboot your energy stores. This reduces errors, minimizes fatigue and stops you from becoming sick from overworking yourself.

Plus, your boss is taking out your break time from your pay anyway!

Coordinate your break with your fellow colleagues and get away from your desk or the direct working environment. Enjoy your home-cooked food surrounded by your workmates in a separate space such as the tea room or separate “hang out space” if available. This is a great time to catch up and also importantly allows your brain to rest and reset. We are not invincible to fatigue as much we want to fight it. We recently wrote an article titled, Shift Work Burnout: Causes, Red Flags and How to Beat It​ which I think is very timely right about now.

Nap Smart

Nursing has really taught me the benefits of having a “nana nap” at pretty much any opportunity I can.

  • Before driving home from a night shift – Read: How to Stop Falling Asleep While Driving after Night Shift​
  • After a 1st/early shift
  • Before starting a night shift
  • Recovering on days off.. etc And whilst naps are wonderful, they can be a curse too. I recently wrote a post titled, Should You Nap During Night Shift? which opened my eyes to what a nap should really look like. Click on the image to take a look. The bottom line with taking a nap on night shift is that it should be between 10-20 minutes long OR 90 minutes… nothing in between. While the world won’t cave in and smother you if you have a nap of say 50 minutes, you might feel groggy and disoriented for up to an hour. This is called sleep inertia and is basically caused by disrupting a cycle of sleep mid-way through. Avoid this horrible feeling by keeping it short, or making it long (if you have the time and luxury). Use an alarm clock on your mobile phone or one of the specialized night shift alarm clocks we reviewed here to make sure you don’t oversleep. Have you heard of a coffee nap? I know it sounds odd, but using coffee to enhance your sleep/nap is possible and can actually be really effective when feeling tired. Find out more here.

Know When to Stop Drinking Caffeine

How many coffees have you had today? Caffeine is brilliant for keeping us motivated and alert throughout the night. Plus, it’s loaded with health benefits such as reducing our risk of Type 2 Diabetes (2). But if drunk 5 -6 hours before bed, it can have negative effects on your quality of sleep. Why does this happen? Well, coffee can stay in our system for up to 12 hours making sleep almost impossible (for most people) once you get home. Unfortunately, this does include all the things we love:

  • Soda
  • Energy drinks
  • Chocolate
  • Hot chocolate
  • Tea (some herbal teas for caffeine-free) But you’re probably saying to yourself, how do I survive the night shift without coffee? Well, a glass of ice-cold water works a treat for me, but we have a whole list of other beverages you need to give a whirl here that will help you survive. Related post: Night Shift and Caffeine. How To Use It Wisely

Be Sociable Overnight

The relationships built during overnight shifts are pretty special because there is nobody else who truly appreciates how hard some nights can be. There are limited resources and management around to support you, so naturally, you need to work together to get jobs done. This is the part of night shift I enjoy the most; catching up with new and old friends, having a laugh and understanding I am not the only one struggling to stay awake. I understand your work colleagues may not be your “friends of choice” but unfortunately, you can’t be choosy and need to make the best of the situation you’re in. Related post: 7 Essential Night Shift Tips: Making the Impossible a Reality

Don’t Sit Still on Night Shift

One of the absolute keys to working night shift is to keep the blood pumping. Don’t sit still watching the clock – Again, it’s torture Bring in a foam roller and stretch those sore bits (environment permitting), set a timer to get up from your desk every hour or walk the flight of stairs at the office (again, if available). Make sure you limit the time you spend sitting in one place as you will become increasingly tired and less productive as the night goes on. As a nurse, I find restocking medical supplies and calibrating blood sugar machines surprisingly satisfying and works a treat. Find something in your area that always need attention and make that part of your nightly routine. We wrote a post titled, Bored on Night Shift? How to Stay Busy Without the Internet which is full of suggestions if you need some inspiration.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking water may seem really basic but is often something I forget about when the shift gets busy. Simply drinking enough water prevents dehydration, lethargy and headaches by keeping your organs happy so they don’t need to work harder than they have to. But how much water should you drink overnight? As a general rule women should be consuming approximately 91 ounces (2.7 liters) of total water and men approximately 125 ounces daily (3.7 liters). If you’re not a big water drinker it could seem like a lot, so why not try adding some mint leaves or lemon juice to your bottle to enhance the flavor? I have the MIRA Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Water Bottle because it has a nice sized mouth opening (so I don’t spill it!) and colors are pretty, plus it keeps my water cold for the whole shift. See it on Amazon here for a very reasonable price.

Place your drink bottle in a location you can actually see as a constant reminder to drink.  Don’t hide it inside a cupboard or behind a stack of books or paper. 

On our shift work tools page, we explore our favorite tumbler, the BEAST and also our top choice of water bottles, which infuse fruits into the water hassle-free. We also talk a bunch more about the best shift work products we highly suggest. Click the image below to check it out.

Keep the Light on in Your Direct Working Area

It’s tempting to turn off the light when working night shift (environment dependent), but try and resist the temptation. The seemly annoying light stimulus continually tells your body and sleep hormones, like melatonin, to stay awake. Which is what we want… If you’re thinking it’s a mild form of torture you’re absolutely right… (constant light was used as a torture method at Alkatraz in San Fran Cisco for bad prisoners), but it can be very effective in the short term to prevent you from falling asleep on the job. If you want to learn more about melatonin and the role it plays in sleep, take a look at the following posts. This knowledge has totally changed my sleeping routine after a night shift for the better.

  • Melatonin tablet: My Top Tip for Taking Melatonin on Night Shift: Plus 10 More
  • Alarm clocks: 7 Best Alarm Clocks for Night Shift Workers
  • Best practices: 9 Shift Work Best Practices You’re Probably Not Doing

Turn off iCloud Private Relay for Wi-Fi

If you notice a major dip in data network speed following the iOS 15 update, you need to disable iCloud Private Relay for the Home/Work Wi-Fi. Simply open the Settings app on the iPhone, navigate to Wi-Fi > Wi-Fi network, and turn off iCloud Private Relay from the following menu.

Edit Date and Time in Photos

Not only can you check the image details from the Photos app, but also modify their date and time in iOS 15. You can select a single photo or multiple photos and select the Share menu. Tap on the Edit Date & Time option and change the date and time for the photo.