Is your shift rota changing? Here’s some tips for helping you manage a shift work rota review.
Shift Rota in Review
Wherever you work, shift rotations are not going away. In fact, it seems as though more people than ever are working in some kind of shift pattern.
But getting the right rota is important. Poorly planned shift rotas can be devastating to shift workers. They lead to cardiovascular disease, cancer, insulin resistance and an increase mental health problems.
That said, shift workers get used to their pattern of work. They can become so wed to it, that it becomes ingrained. So, when the employer announces a shift review, it’s viewed with great suspicion.
What will be the outcome? What problems will it throw up? More nights, longer hours? Less recovery time between shifts?
Whatever the outcome, there are some simple tips that can help reduce the impact of a change in shift rota.
1. Adjust Sleep 3-5 Days in advance
It’s helpful to practice staying up before you start a new shift rota. Some shift workers advocate the Cold Turkey approach to starting a new shift swing – throw yourself into it, and accept that you will be a zombie for the first few days.
Whilst this has its merits, it’s not always sensible. Performance and well-being can be seriously affected and impaired. Not just for a few days, but for many weeks. And it can have long term effects on health and mental stability.
Research has shown that a gradual sleep adjustment works best. It helps you to adapt better to the change. And allows you to switch to a new rota more quickly, without the same level of “zombification”.
Other personal adjustments can also help. Such as doing work activities at night, in the run up to the change. Or setting a gym routine to help you sleep and exercise at the right times.
2. Eat Well and Pack Food
Food matters! What we eat affects our energy levels. Eating high energy food before a shift, such as veg, complex carbs and protein is highly beneficial. It allows you to manage better on a shift as well as keeping you healthier all round.
Taking nutritious food to work is also important. It helps to reduce the amount of junk food, or chocolate eaten on the shift itself. Packing high energy snacks is also a good way of fending off the 3am slump.
Tracking your food intake with apps, such as MyFitnessPal or other tools really helps to keep track of your daily intake.
Moderate Caffeine and Alcohol.
Caffeine rich drinks might seem like a good idea to keep you going through the night, but they can disturb your sleep and are not always good for you. In a similar way, alcohol at the end of a long shift might seem like a very good plan! But it heavily affects the quality of sleep, disrupting the natural REM cycle. And it also contributes to weight gain and other illnesses. Look after your body by looking after what you put into it.
3. Exercise Regularly
It’s important to make exercise a habit. Long shifts, especially nights, lead to lethargy.
Regular moderate exercise has a myriad of health benefits. Just 30 mins 2-5 times a week can have a huge impact. And for many shift-work related jobs, such as police and fire fighters, it’s important for the work as well.
4. Avoid Blue Light in the run up to sleep
How many of us check our phones before bed? Do we need to see the emails, or watch YouTube or TikTok endlessly?
If we want a better quality of sleep in the run up to a new shift rota, the answer is no. Blue light supressed melatonin, a sleep promoting substance, which helps to regulate our circadian rhythms. Avoiding blue light helps us to get off to a better sleep.
However, checking the phone is a hard habit to break. The advice is that we stop 2 hours before sleep. But that’s not always practically possible. Which is why using a blue light filter or switching to Dark Mode before bedtime can help.
5. Remember, being tired is normal
It takes time to adjust to shift work. And it takes time to adjust to a new shift rota. It’s perfectly normal to be tired so give yourself the necessary time to help you adjust. And be good to yourself.
6. Plan Ahead!
With MyShiftPlanner it’s easy to plan ahead for the change. You can change your rota in advance by setting up a future rota in the app. That way, you can see exactly when the change occurs and plan your time off accordingly.
To find out more about setting up a future rota, click HERE
Time off is important, so make the most of it. Let MyShiftPlanner help you adjust to your new rota.