Friday, February 26, 2021

How to Stay Healthy If You Work Weird Hours


Staying up late comes natural to most of us. For many of us, shift work is part of our lives. I often work up to ten o’clock at night and then come home to a late dinner. Others may stay up due to sick kids or a mind that will not settle down due to constant worries. We all have our reasons, but we all need our sleep to live a healthy life. And, there are changes we can make to get that quality sleep that are so obvious.

How many of you use your electronic devices in bed? I am talking about cell phones, computers, and tablets and so on here. I am guilty of this almost every night, but we all need to stop. Right now, put it away. The artificial light that comes off these devices can make us stay up later. It makes us more alert in the later hours and messes up our sleep cycles. How do you change this? Instead of reading your e-reader, read a paperback book. Instead of playing that addictive game on your phone or tablet, pull out that neglected crossword book that sits on your nightstand.

Likewise, try to cut your caffeine intake after around 2 o’clock. This is going to be a tough one. The earlier you stop drinking it, however, the more likely you will get to bed at a decent hour. If you are looking for that energy rush, try drinking orange juice or another beverage. These have a bit of acidy taste, but they have not been found to keep you up much later than usual.

In addition, you might find it helpful to exercise during the day. It could be something as simple as walking. Try to exercise at least thirty minutes or least long enough to break a sweat. This way, your heart rate increases and you burn calories. Using up that energy is beneficial to not only your health, but also it is going to lead to excellent sleep that night.

As it gets later in the day, try not to take naps. When you first stop drinking caffeine, this may prove difficult not to do. You may regret it later at night, however, when you are laying awake and counting sheep. Instead of napping, get up and stretch. Move around the house and keep yourself busy. You will soon forget how tired you are and the day will move by much faster.

In addition, stretch out your whole body in the bed. It is best to take deep breaths and think of thoughts that are soothing and relaxing. If your mind is racing or your body is tense, try to clear your mind and loosen up your muscles. Do not let worries follow you to bed because they will follow you into your dreams and we all know that is not any fun. Make sure you are comfortable with your blankets and pillows, and then turn the lights out. Let your mind rest and let yourself get a peaceful sleep.

We all stay up late. For some, it just comes second nature but it is an unhealthy habit that needs to be kicked to the curb. Put away those electronic devices early and replace them with knitting or another hobby. You’re going to find that your body will wake up naturally after awhile. Those dark circles under your eyes will slowly fade away. You may even drop a few pounds due to this healthy change in your life, which is always a great change. So stop reading this and go get some sleep!


  1. Sissy

    I am so happy that you are addressing this vital issue.

    I’ve seen a definite correlation between insufficient sleep and domestic violence. There has not been enough study to confirm with absolute certainty that lack of sleep is a *cause* of domestic violence; but there is plenty of research to suggest that such studies should be undertaken.

    Let’s face it — we all know that we are more irritable and more likely to fly off the handle when we’re exhausted. Some families make sleep deprivation a lifestyle choice and force it on their young children as well. This happens when the adults are less disciplined than the little children, do not follow through on their own self-care, and later take it out on the kids.

    Between spouses, the lack of sleep and general well-being means that arguments crop up often and with great intensity. The sad part is that the couples themselves do not realize that their arguments are out of hand compared to most others. They have no point of comparison, and most of them try to put on a good front when others are around.

    In the final analysis, it’s hard to convince a perpetrator or a victim of domestic violence to seek more sleep. To them, it seems a trivial issue and they can just brush it off and get on with living. But to those of us looking in from the outside, the pattern is obvious.

    Lack of sleep is probably involved in bullying as well.

    Thanks for a great article with genuinely useful tips.

  2. Marcus

    I have been trying to quit this bad habit of staying late for months now and I still am not closer to finding the right solution. I had a couple of days when I forced myself to close my PC around 10 PM and just stay in bed reading a book until I fell asleep.

    I tried taking a bath before bed and it seems to be working. The problem is how do I turn any of these into a habit and do it everyday? It’s clear that I need to make a change because I always feel tired and have serious problems getting up in the morning.

  3. Linda

    I have always struggled with my sleep patterns and I know this has a negative impact on my health but it is just so difficult to fit everything into the hours of a day! The point you made about screen use is a biggie for me but when you need your laptop to complete work and your up working late – what can you do?! I have tried to leave a gap between stopping and going to bed so even though I actually end up in bed later, I go to sleep more easily. I also purchased a “sleep spray” which you put on your pillows, it has sleep inducing herbs and essential oils which are very relaxing. It may all be in my head but either way it is helping!

  4. Andrea

    This is an awful, awful problem for me (as you can tell by the fact that it’s currently 12:58am and here I am reading this website on my laptop in bed). I’ve tried so hard to break my awful sleep habits but sometimes it just seems like nothing will ever work. I’m unfortunately one of those who has a mind that won’t quiet down, but being on my electronic devices certainly doesn’t help. I found it interesting that you suggested stretching, though – one night recently I played a progressive muscle relaxation tape as I was attempting to fall asleep and the stretching and relaxing of my muscles really made falling asleep so much easier!

Jennifer Olson
A mother of three, lover of children and keeping them (and us adults!) as healthy as can be. I have worked as a midwife and nurse for 12 years. Email:

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