Aug 6, 2023

Best Practices for part-time and casual Workers in 2023

Shift can be challenging, but that doesn’t mean it has to impact your physical, mental, and sleep health negatively. With the proper steps and strategies, you can combat negative health impacts and take advantage of all the benefits shift work offers, like an easy commute, free time during the day, and the ability to do meaningful work you enjoy.

If you want to have a positive shift work experience and wake up each afternoon feeling well-rested and energised, here are a few best practices for you to consider:

Prioritise your sleep hygiene

Shift work may involve working non-traditional hours. However, just because you can’t sleep during traditional sleeping hours does not mean that you have to have poor sleep quality.

If you prioritise your sleep hygiene, you’ll find that you can feel well rested, even while working nights.

Here are a few steps to practice good sleep hygiene and improve your sleep quality.

Avoid looking at screens before bed

The blue light emitted by many televisions, phones, and laptop screens can negatively affect sleep quality. According to Harvard Health, light exposure at night will lower melatonin levels and disrupt the circadian rhythm. Although it might be tempting to scroll through social media or watch a television show before bed, it will make it harder for you to fall asleep. 

If you must have screen time before bed, blue-light filter apps and blue-light glasses are available. 

Buy blackout curtains or an eye mask

In the same way you should avoid looking at screens, you should also avoid exposure to light before you sleep for the day.

Investing in blackout curtains or a comfortably fitting eye mask can help you block out all light sources in your room so that you can sleep without disruptions.

Communicate your sleep needs

If you have family members, roommates, or friends that tend to make a lot of noise during the day, be open with them about your sleep needs.

Your significant other may not realise that vacuuming in the morning will disrupt your sleep, or your kids may not think it’s a big deal to play loudly outside your room. 

Good sleep hygiene involves minimising noise, which means you must communicate the importance of your sleep needs to anyone who lives with you.

Maintain a consistent sleep schedule

If you go to bed at different times each day, it will be challenging for your body to get into a rhythm. You want to get to the point where your body naturally starts to feel tired around a certain time and alert at others. 

When you develop a consistent sleep schedule, your body’s internal clock will start to signal when it is time for you to wake up in the afternoon and fall asleep in the morning, helping to shift your circadian rhythm in your favour.

Only use your bed for sleeping

Reading, watching television, playing video games, or doing other activities in your bed can help your body start to feel tired when you get into bed in the morning. If you know that every time you get in your bed, you will be doing a sleep-related activity, your body will associate your bed with sleeping, which will help you fall asleep more quickly.

Lower the temperature

Keep the temperature down in your room for more comfortable sleep. According to the Sleep Foundation, a lower temperature will help signal the body that it is time to sleep. As your body releases melatonin, its core body temperature tends to drop. 

Doctors recommend that the optimal sleep temperature that garners the best sleep results is between 15 to 19° C. 

Spend time outside each day

Depending on when they have to arrive at work and when they get to head home to sleep, many shift workers often have minimal exposure to daylight. Some may not even get the chance to see any sunlight on days when they are scheduled to work.

Although some people may only consider this a minor annoyance, missing out on daylight is detrimental for shift workers. 

Sunlight increases serotonin levels and provides a natural source of vitamin D, which greatly impacts mental and physical health.

Serotonin is known as the “happiness hormone” for a reason. This hormone is a natural mood booster that helps combat depression and stress while also improving sleep quality. Since shift workers are 33% more likely to experience depression and at a greater risk of developing shift work sleep disorder and insomnia than those who work traditional schedules, maintaining adequate serotonin levels is essential.

Vitamin D is also crucial for shift workers because it helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Also, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to poor sleep quality and immune system health.

Prevent yourself from missing out on the benefits of natural sunlight by prioritising spending time outside during daylight hours every single day.

Even if you can only manage a quick walk outside in the afternoon right before your shift or a few moments breathing in the fresh air and taking in sunlight when you wake up after working the night shift, these moments you spend outside will make a world of difference.

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While everyone physically able should aim to get 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily, shift workers need to exercise daily.

When many people first transition to shift work, they tend to notice their health starts to decline. 

Instead of being able to go to a healthy place to eat for lunch, many shift workers have to eat at the only spots that are open during their shift, which are typically fast food restaurants. Furthermore, in an attempt to stay awake and alert during their shift, many shift workers opt for energy drinks or sugary snacks from the vending machines at work. The foods that are most convenient to eat outside of traditional work hours typically have more calories and are higher in sugar, saturated fats, and salt, which will take a toll on the body over time.

Daily exercise can help fight against the adverse effects that come from these eating habits, making it easier for shift workers to promote their physical health when working unconventional hours.

Spending time engaging in physical activity is also great for combatting sleep-related issues. Shift work negatively impacts sleep quality, leading to various health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, high stress levels, and depression.

Poor sleep combined with unhealthy eating habits can have disastrous physical and mental health effects, which is why daily exercise is essential for shift workers.

Exercise and sleep quality are closely related. Surveys show that engaging in exercise leads to good sleep quality and significantly decreases the time it takes to fall asleep at night.

While you should avoid vigorous exercise before bed, making sure to exercise when you first wake up or a couple of hours before your shift will improve your physical and sleep health.

Drink water

While drinking caffeinated beverages during your shift might be tempting, drinking water will provide far more benefits.

Water consumption has been linked with increased alertness, focus, and cognitive performance.

Drinking plenty of water throughout your shift will help improve your energy levels, helping you stay alert during your shift without consuming caffeinated beverages that will keep you awake for hours.

Instead of relying on caffeine for an extra energy boost, drink some water and eat some healthy, energy-boosting snacks like oatmeal, almonds, bananas, and peanut butter.

Avoid caffeine

Even if you drink beverages other than water during your shift, you should avoid caffeine during your shift. Although it might seem like grabbing a cup of coffee or a caffeinated energy drink won’t hurt, it can take as many as six hours for caffeine to leave your body.

If you drink a caffeinated beverage or two during your shift, chances are you will have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep when you get home from work.

Don’t eat before bed

After working a long shift, you’ll probably feel hungry and want to grab a bite to eat before you go to bed.

Shift workers should avoid eating before bed for a few reasons:

For one, unless you meal prep beforehand, the majority of places where you will be able to get food quickly after working nights is at a fast food restaurant. These foods are not only bad for your physical health but also detrimental to your sleep health.

Also, eating less than two hours before bedtime has been shown to increase sleep disruption, making it more difficult for people to receive a good night’s sleep.

As a shift worker, you need all the sleep you can get. Set designated times to eat and pack light, healthy snacks during your shift so that you can get to sleep quickly after work without feeling hungry.

Reduce Administrative Stress

Elevated stress isn’t good for anyone–neither you, your workers, nor your customers. A common cause for increased stress can be the monotonous administrative tasks that drain productivity and wear down your team. Consider healthcare workers, for example: they want to take care of patients, not spend hours on paperwork. Moreover, administrative tasks and paperwork increases their time spent in the office.

Moonworkers reduces both administrative work and the stress that comes with these tasks, helping shift workers to get more time for themselves. It reduces their stress outside office hours, as they don't have to think about work things that they tend to procrastinate or feel hatred towards, all of which builds engagement and loyalty.

If you want to help support your shift work team members and provide them with a seamless work experience, consider implementing software from Moonworkers

Book a demo with us today to see how we can help you manage your HR, payroll, and employee benefits.

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We have been using Moonworkers for quite some time and compared to other software in the market, we found it very simple to use and excellent. Moreover, the customer service is great.
Shabir D.

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