Night shift jobs have become common in Indian cities, and whether it’s a complete night shift or rotational shifts, it takes a toll on the body. Those working night shifts will have decreased (or fluctuating) levels of energy and health, not to mention the increasing waistline.
Night shift employees in India were considered rare “owls” but nowadays more and more people, especially the youth, are working this shift. And as you can guess these are (mainly) sedentary jobs in front of the computer which puts their health further at risk.
Even health conscious people who take up night jobs witness a lot of changes in their health, for instance, they feel hungrier and a lot less energetic. Researchers found that those working in night jobs are more susceptible to gaining weight and increased abdominal obesity. Here are some of the health issues caused by working in night shifts.
Calorie consumption decreases: A study conducted in a science academy found that those who slept in the day and worked at nights burned 52-59 calories lesser in a day than those who have a regular sleep-wake pattern. These 52 calories may seem paltry at first but if you multiply it with a week or a month the amount spirals out of control.
Now it is understandable that night shift works are the livelihood of many people, so what can be done to counter this calorie surplus? The easiest solution is to decrease the intake of food by 3-5% to counter the unburned calories.
Ever heard of the thermic effect of food or TEF? 10% of the body’s daily energy expenditure is spent on digestion, absorption, and distribution of nutrients. The TEF is lower for those who eat their food during the night, which means that fewer calories are burnt per meal.
The simple solution is to increase the intake of proteins which has a higher TEF than carbs and fats.
Variations in blood sugar levels: The body’s function of secreting the appropriate amount of insulin is called glucose tolerance, and it is at its best in the morning. This ability decreases at night. Those who eat at nights get their glucose transformed into fat cells or else this glucose will be left in the blood. And both these processes are not good for the body.
The solution for this is to binge on high fibrous food and reduce carb intake. The high fiber improves the glucose tolerance by lowering the release of glucose.
Hungrier than before: With sleep deprivation comes hunger; it happens because your brain misconstrues the body’s fatigue as hunger and signals the body to eat. The problem arises when the signals are continuous and stronger.
You should eat rich and high nutrient foods at regular intervals of 3-4 hours.
Sleep issues: Many people find it hard to sleep in the morning even after working in night shift for years. Some reach home after work and drink their morning tea or coffee or go to a gym and then lie wide awake in the bed.
Do not drink tea or coffee before bed, and wake up early to make time for exercising.