Managing Shift Work

...or like sh*tty sleep habits in general.

The effect of shift work has been likened to a long distance traveler working in San Francisco and returning to London for rest days. We all know it screws with us, and I think can contribute to the mindset of “oh well, nothing I can do."

Circadian rhythm refers to how our bodily functions (temperature, respiratory rate, urinary excretion, cell division, hormone production) are affected by light, dark, climate and work schedules. When we wake up in the morning our body temperature is at its lowest and should peak in the late afternoon. Cortisol levels should be highest upon waking and lowest in the evening

What happens when we disrupt this order with poor sleep, chronic stress or shift working?

  • ????Cardiovascular Disease: Potentially a 40% increase in risk.
  • Digestive Disorders: Dyspepsia, heartburn, abdominal pains, and ???? are common.
  • Reproductive Risk: May present special risks to women of child bearing age - spontaneous abortion, low birth weight, and prematurity likely due to disruption of the menstrual cycle and increased stress.
  • Mental health: Anxiety and depression indices point to an adverse effect.

Having worked with tons of shift workers I know it’s possible to mitigate damage and even thrive. Hearing a client has finally slept through the night is one of my favorite reports!


1. Set a strict sleep schedule

Treat it like a normal night/day - get a bedtime routine in place, dark/cool room, and MOVE upon waking (10 air squats does wonders).

2. Diet

Focus on quality (lots of fruits & veggies!) and TRY to chew your food as much as you can, especially when on the go.

3. Exercise

High-intensity exercise is probably not your best bet, but throw it in occasionally with a balanced regimen - LOTS of walking, moderate breathing work, and resistance training are key.

4. Sunrise clock

If you’re getting up at 4 a.m. its going to be WAY easier when your room is as bright as a sunrise, check out Phillips.

5. ☀️Vitamin D

Check your Vitamin D levels and if below 20 ng/ml, supplement and/or get in the sun ASAP.