Health & Wellness: Surviving the Graveyard Shift
A graveyard shift goes overnight between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. Various students in the Bellingham area go to school full time and work graveyard shifts at night.
There are both long-term and short-term health issues that follow working graveyard shifts. According to a study from referenced in Time Health, graveyard shifts can cause obesity, vitamin D deficiency and shift natural behaviors that respond to day and night, known as your circadian clock. Short-term effects include extreme drowsiness, insomnia and stress.
When asked, these are the top five tips two Bellingham students gave on how to cope with the health issues of graveyard shifts, and how to live a healthy lifestyle while going to school full time.
- Take afternoon classes.
Depending on the time your shift ends, your class should start about 6 to 7 hours after. “No morning classes, because if you do that you won’t go,” senior and BigFoot Java graveyard shift worker Tiffany McNeary said.
- Get at least six hours of sleep.
The Mayo clinic recommends that you sleep seven to nine hours each day, but if you sleep at least six hours with an afternoon nap, you can keep a healthy lifestyle.
- Watch what you eat.
Eat breakfast when you get up. Eat lunch right after you get home from your classes. For dinner, The Huffington Post suggests that you eat dinner on your break during your shift. By bringing dinner to work you can reduce the temptation to purchase fast food or snacks from the vending machine.
- If you can, do your homework during your shift.
Doing homework during a shift is only recommended if it is allowed. It saves a lot of time and lessens the stress of doing homework during the day when you could be sleeping and preparing for the next graveyard shift.
- Know when graveyard shifts don’t work for you.
Cruisin Coffee worker and Whatcom Community College student Alexandria Phillips chose to leave graveyard shifts because she would skip her classes.“They say it’s fine because you’re young, but it’s not good for your brain or your body. It just drains you physically, mentally and emotionally,” Phillips said.
For more tips, visit the National Sleep Foundation website to hear from people who work graveyard shifts. These workers are not students, but have insightful tips that are applicable to students’ lives.
Featured Image: BigFoot Java barista Tiffany McNeary making drinks. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Springer.