In this blog we explored how working in jobs/careers that require working late or night shifts can influence circadian rhythm, hormonal health and menstrual cycles. Now we’re going to chat about what to do about it! Whether you do night shifts on a weekly or monthly basis or once a year – you can incorporate these tips at any time to support the circadian rhythm, which is always supportive no matter what is going on.
1. Avoid looking at screens directly before going to sleep. Have at least 30 mins (ideally more!) of screen-free time to help your body wind down, prepare for sleep and optimise melatonin production.
2. Track your cycle. Pay attention to your cycle length, how many days you bleed, the volume of blood you lose, clots/spotting, cervical mucus, and ovulation. Being aware of your body’s normal helps you to know very quickly if something is off.
3. Avoid overstimulating your nervous system when you’re not at work. Rest as much as you can, where you can. Actively work on bringing down your cortisol response daily with simple things like deep abdominal breathing, and legs up the wall pose.
4. Check your vitamin D. If you’re frequently working night shifts and missing out on regular sun exposure, your vitamin D may struggle. Vit D plays a critical role in ovulation, healthy menstrual cycles, and fertility.
5. Eat enough. Working night shifts bumps up the stress response which can churn through a lot of nutrients and reserves in the process. Eat as regularly as you can to help keep blood sugar stable and load up on nutrient-dense foods to soothe your nervous system and nourish your hormones.
6. On days off, try to keep the same wake & sleep times to send your body messages of consistency & stability.
7. Mind the caffeine. Whilst it is totally understandable some may need some caffeine to get through one (or more) night shifts, aim to use sparingly to reduce the overall pressure and stimulation on your nervous system.
8. Know your limit. If you are noticing clear disturbances to your menstrual cycle, your health, your mental health and/or fertility (eg. recurrent miscarriages) explore if there is any flexibility with reducing the amount of night shifts you do.