When we hear the word night shift, the image of a completely exhausted work zombie appears in the bright light of a production hall or sneaks over the night corridors of a hospital. But even though this condition is relatively unknown to many athletes, it is true that around 20 percent of employees regularly work night shifts here. Night work, however, does not have negligible consequences, especially for athletes, as the biorhythm sometimes causes severe turbulence. As a result, it comes among other things to a disturbance of the hormone level, which among other things can lead to weight gain, food cravings or listlessness in training. Consequently, we would like to dedicate this article to the problem of night work, and to highlight some of the consequences and how to best mitigate it.
The consequences of your night shift
Consequence 1 - You burn fewer calories a day
As part of a study by the US National Academy of Sciences, scientists found that people who worked regularly at night, and thus had impaired sleep patterns, burned significantly fewer calories per day than non-night workers. On average, an under-consumption of 52 to 59 kilocalories per day could be determined. From this point of view, this may not seem like much, but within a week this figure adds up to 364 to 416 kilocalories, which already corresponds to a daily deficit in the context of a classic diet. So it is no wonder that night workers gain weight in the long term, as long as they keep their eating habits unchanged. The solution to this problem is trivial in itself, because all you have to do is reduce your daily calorie intake by around 50 to 60 kilocalories and keep track of your body weight changes.
Consequence 2 - Your digestion burns less calories
The so-called Thermic Effect of Food ensures that about 10 percent of your daily energy consumption is due to the digestion of your food. This is not really surprising, especially since the breakdown of solid, largely natural food for your organism is a tremendous effort. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at this issue and compared the energy expenditure of digestion on night workers and those who do not work regularly at night. Although the results between the subjects were sometimes subject to strong fluctuations, so nevertheless a clearly measurable difference emerged, which can have a long-term negative effect on body weight. To counteract this effect, you should increase the protein and fat content in your diet by about 10-15 percent, because the Thermic Effect of Food is particularly high in the case of fats and proteins.
Consequence 3 - Your blood sugar level suffers from night work
The insulin sensitivity of your body, in simple terms the ability to keep your insulin levels stable, is best in the morning and diminishes with increasing duration of the day. So, if you work at night and consume a lot of your calories after sunset, your body will be much more likely to transport the glucose that accumulates in your bloodstream into your fat cells, which of course is not conducive to your figure. The bottom line is that it makes sense to reduce the carbohydrate content in your diet by about 10 percent on days when you have night shift. Also, be sure to focus more on complex carbohydrates that are high in fiber. The fiber in the diet ensures that the intake of glucose is significantly reduced, so that the insulin level increases significantly less.
Consequence 4 - You get hungrier
One of the major symptoms of sleep deprivation, which is preprogrammed as part of night work, is an increased feeling of hunger, as your tired brain screams for energy in order to keep working at full speed. This emission of signals, in turn, results in a reduction of the leptin level and in turn leads to an increase in the concentration of the starvation hormone ghrelin. The less sleep you get, the more the effect will be. To keep hunger under control, you should get used to eating something every three hours during the night shift. But make sure that it is not necessarily food with a high proportion of short-chain carbohydrates.
Consequence 5 - You get drowsiness
The lack of sleep respectively the disturbed day-night-rhythm is one of the main causes of many physical ailments, such as fatigue, overconfidence or the increase of body weight. The more you try to fight fatigue with the help of stimulants such as caffeine, the greater the impact on sleep quality. As soon as you try to sleep after work, you will find that sometimes you only go to sleep after a few hours, which rekindle the cascade of problems. To prevent this, you should get up a few hours before the start of your shift and do your training on training days immediately before, as this, among other things, has a positive effect on the stability of your insulin level. In addition, you should logically get used to taking no more stimulants five to six hours before your planned bedtime. You'll be amazed how much your sleep quality increases if you only consider these two aspects.