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8 tips on working Night shift

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8 tips on working Night shift

Post by Admin on Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:21 pm

[size=40]8 tips from a CO on working graveyard shift[/size]

What has worked for you that helps you through your graveyard journey?

Jul 9, 2014














The midnight shift. Dogwatch. Graveyard. The dark side.
Whatever you choose to call it, it sure is a different way of life for those of us who work it. I have been on nights going on my 13th year this month and I always say it’s normal.
Working nights interferes with our body make up. Humans are diurnal and not meant to stay up at night while sleeping during the day. Working against our circadian clock can take a toll on us. This is the body clock that essentially controls our glands which release hormones and also controls our mood, alertness, body temperature and our body’s daily cycle. Because of this those who work graveyards can suffer from sleep disorders and for some, constant exhaustion becomes a lifestyle.
I know I am super tired when I am doing a security check in the middle of the night and I am jealous of the inmates curled up in their cold stone beds. How could I be jealous of a criminal locked up in a yucky, used bed with thin blankets? It’s these nights I know I must recharge my batteries.
Unfortunately the night shift lifestyle can be harmful to your well-being. It can worsen your moods, decrease your reflexes to respond to split-second decisions, and make you more vulnerable to disease.
Here are some helpful sleeping and health tips for the graveyard person:

  • Eat well and exercise. The body’s digestive system slows down and does not easily digest heavy foods during the night. The best eating should be done with a first meal within the first hour of waking up. It is best to eat 5-6 small meals a day several hours apart. Diet and exercise could help prevent diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.

  • Get enough sleep. The brain can be tricked into thinking it is time to go to sleep if your bedroom is dark with blackout shades. An eye mask allows the ultimate darkness. And keep a pair of earplugs in the nightstand for when that darn gardener decides to weed whack and mow in the middle of your night, or for that neighbor’s dog that will not stop barking. Drive home wearing sunglasses to reduce exposure to light.

  • Try to keep working schedule stable. Consistency is key. It’s recommended to find a routine and match your off days to your work days as much as possible. Although working during the daytime may not be an option, rotating shifts are harder on the body. You will be better off with a consistent routine.

  • See your doctor for closer monitoring. It’s a good idea to monitor that health risks are not impacting you in irreversible ways. Also, lack of exposure to the sun can cause deficiencies. I recommend blood work and checkup be done – mine revealed I was low in Vitamin B and D.

  • Nap before work. Since it may be hard to sleep consistently for hours, splitting your sleep can help to make things less dangerous at work or with commute drives.

  • Refrain from caffeine. Although it is tempting to have a cup of coffee or caffeinated soda when you need that boost of energy, your sleep quality is at risk. Your deepest stages of sleep are affected and you are not fully rested. Drink water when you are feeling sleepy.

  • Change lights at home. Besides using black out curtains to reduce day light, you may think about getting low-wattage light bulbs, maybe even a red one. This will decrease the output of light when making that midnight bathroom call so your sleep cycle is not bothered by the brightness.

  • Keep electronics out of the bedroom. It can be tempting to reach for the smart phone, tablet or laptop to check your email, Facebook or text messages (or in my case Pinterest). This is fun stuff to do when you cannot sleep but the blue light that radiates is keeping you awake. Television included!


Next time you are dealing with that difficult coworker on a 12-hour shift, just remember their crankiness and unreasonable perspective could be caused by their circadian clock being off a few minutes or maybe even hours. It is not pleasant to accept that this shift can create negativity in your encounters or even worse being treated negatively for no apparent reason.
In our jobs we tend to think we are invincible and will manage, but our body does not always keep up with our mindset. In law enforcement, we are family and your well-being is important. And as correctional officers and first responders, with our intelligence, specialized knowledge, not to mention our charm, the community and residents rely on us too.

About the author

Harriet Fox is a Correctional Officer in a county jail in Northern California. She is a Jail Training Officer, Emergency Response Team member and has worked as an Intake Classification Officer. Having an inquisitive mind, Harriet is intrigued by the criminal mind, gangs and mental illness within the walls of the correctional system. Prior to becoming a Correctional Officer, Harriet worked several different law enforcement positions including Reserve Police Officer and 9-1-1 Communications Dispatcher. Harriet has a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Sociology.


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BryanM35

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Re: 8 tips on working Night shift

Post by BryanM35 on Tue Aug 18, 2015 5:50 am

Useful tips Admin, I think above tips covered all important aspects.
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Re: 8 tips on working Night shift

Post by Nightwatchman on Sun Oct 04, 2015 4:56 am

thanks Admin and author.
I do most of these things. I becomes difficult when there are too many days between my nightwatch shifts, often a `triple block' of three shifts at 13 hrs each, with only two hours after my shifts to get to bed and soon to sleep, I hope!
On the job what keeps me alert: moderation of coffee and energy drink(just one 250 ml), some snacks, and moderation of smokes too. 
Radio documentaries, and reading. I am studying to become a tour guide, psychological texts, including recently `Verbal Judo' by George Thompson.

The patrols help keep me alert. I am currently nearing two months on the `graveyard shift' incidentally my patrols take me through a graveyard.The job has its perqs, this keeps me motivated. This work is out of my field (construction or tech.) but I am getting to like it.


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health risks

Post by Nightwatchman on Tue Nov 03, 2015 8:57 am

here is another helpful link as it relates to health for those that work the `graveyard' shift, though for me, coffee and smokes are ok(as well as a small energy drink) to 6 a.m when I plan to get to bed by 8:30 ...

http://work.chron.com/dangers-working-night-shift-25104.html


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StevenWS

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Re: 8 tips on working Night shift

Post by StevenWS on Thu Nov 05, 2015 2:54 pm

Nightwatchman wrote:here is another helpful link as it relates to health for those that work the `graveyard' shift, though for me, coffee and smokes are ok(as well as a small energy drink) to 6 a.m when I plan to get to bed by 8:30 ...

http://work.chron.com/dangers-working-night-shift-25104.html


Thanks for the information. Nightwatchman.


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Re: 8 tips on working Night shift

Post by Nightwatchman on Mon Nov 09, 2015 1:46 pm

StevenWS wrote:
Nightwatchman wrote:here is another helpful link as it relates to health for those that work the `graveyard' shift, though for me, coffee and smokes are ok(as well as a small energy drink) to 6 a.m when I plan to get to bed by 8:30 ...

http://work.chron.com/dangers-working-night-shift-25104.html


Thanks for the information. Nightwatchman.

You are welcome, Steven. Off shift now, resting. Good morning all!


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Re: 8 tips on working Night shift

Post by BryanM35 on Tue Nov 10, 2015 8:07 am

Nightwatchman wrote:here is another helpful link as it relates to health for those that work the `graveyard' shift, though for me, coffee and smokes are ok(as well as a small energy drink) to 6 a.m when I plan to get to bed by 8:30 ...

http://work.chron.com/dangers-working-night-shift-25104.html
Great information. This information is essentially required if we are talking about working night shift of security guards.   
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Nightwatchman

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Remembrance Day...lest we forget the fallen

Post by Nightwatchman on Wed Nov 11, 2015 7:33 am

BryanM35 wrote:
Nightwatchman wrote:here is another helpful link as it relates to health for those that work the `graveyard' shift, though for me, coffee and smokes are ok(as well as a small energy drink) to 6 a.m when I plan to get to bed by 8:30 ...

http://work.chron.com/dangers-working-night-shift-25104.html
Great information. This information is essentially required if we are talking about working night shift of security guards.   
thanks, Bryan, and yep, I agree, as for me I seem to be showing some of the symptoms, a bit crabby, or impatient at times, but knowing the roots I can more effectively work on this.

I met a friend last night who said that: `for each overnight shift worked, it takes a day off your life?!

I would like to here your view(and that of others) that have heard any evidence of this being true.


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shift hazards

Post by Nightwatchman on Sat Jan 09, 2016 7:29 am

Hello all: in recent times I have found myself sensitive (or more so) to light and sound, especially the latter, at times a bit moody too, minor memory loss. Working on these. Knowing, or believing this is an `occupational hazard' helps. I am on one of those `mini vacations' now, trying to stay near work day sleep time.


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