10 Tips for Surviving the Graveyard Shift (and the Day After)

iStock
iStock

When the clock strikes the witching hour, most Americans are snug in their beds. But millions of workers (many of them healthcare professionals, security guards, or remote workers) are just clocking in.

"Graveyard shift is an evocative term for the night shift between about midnight and eight in the morning, when—no matter how often you've worked it—your skin is clammy, there's sand behind your eyeballs, and the world is creepily silent, like the graveyard,” says Michael Quinion of World Wide Words. Working while everyone else is asleep can turn you into the walking dead.

Surviving this type of lifestyle requires more than just flip-flopping your sleep schedule; you also need to rethink the way you spend every waking hour. Here are 10 tips for making the overnight shift work, from the people who’ve done it.

1. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.

Your body usually knows what it needs … even if your brain may disagree. “If you are up, stay up. If you are tired, rest,” says Danielle Pearson, who worked remote overnight hours while traveling for four months in Asia. It may sound simple, but it can be especially difficult when, like Pearson, you want to spend your days exploring instead of sleeping. But resting when your body tells you it's time makes all the difference when it comes to being able to operate at max capacity without a typical schedule.

2. GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO ADJUST.

There’s no point in sugarcoating it: No matter what you do, the first month is going to be brutal. Give yourself enough time to adjust to your new routine by scheduling as few non-work-related activities as possible; instead, focus as much of your energy as you can on changing your sleep patterns. And most importantly, don't set an alarm when sleeping during the day (unless it's one to signal it's time to get ready for work). Let yourself sleep until your body tells you it's had enough.

3. GET THE RIGHT ACCESSORIES.

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You may want to fall asleep at 9 a.m. when your shift ends, but the sun streaming through your window has other plans. The best thing you can do is shut out all of the light and noise in your bedroom. "I had to have a sleep mask and ear plugs to fall asleep,” says Pearson. Blackout shades and a sound machine can be helpful, too. And don't skimp on your bed: A good mattress and pillows will help keep you in bed, even when everyone else’s day is in full swing.

4. TIRE YOURSELF OUT.

"I would try and be active and have a full day so I would be tired when I would sign off at 1 a.m. for bed,” says Pearson. Exercise helps, especially if you treat it like a “morning workout” before starting your day (or night).

5. STICK WITH A SOLID ROUTINE.

If you’re going to be a night-shift person, you need to fully commit—switching between days and nights will only make things more difficult. For Tyler Duzan, who spent four years as a graveyard-shifter in his technology job, this means: "You’re awake no earlier than 5 p.m. on non-working days just to get a chance to do errands and meet people after their day-shift for drinks. You’re in bed no later than 10 a.m. on non-working days so you can ignore the horror that is day-time television. You get a minimum seven hours of sleep every day, and you maintain exercise routines on non-working days at night."

6. POP A MELATONIN.

Just not taking to the new routine? Consider adding a natural supplement to help you adapt. "Right when you get home in the morning [after your shift], take a shower, and then after the shower take a melatonin tablet,” says Duzan. "Melatonin is a chemical produced naturally in your body to trigger sleep and helps regulate your body’s clock. By artificially introducing melatonin during the day, you will shift your body’s clock to accept a flipped [circadian] rhythm.”

7. STAY SCREEN FREE.

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Since any time you have to sleep is a luxury, it’s important you get the most bang for your buck the minute your head hits the pillow. Put your phone far, far away, and do not try to fall asleep with the TV on. The blue light emitted by your electronics can mess with your circadian rhythm—which you've already turned on its head.

8. KEEP IT COOL.

There are few things cozier than curling up under a big blanket in a cold room, and this is extra important when you’re trying to sleep during the day. "Keep the temperature in your room about two to three degrees cooler than you find typically comfortable," says Duzan. "This will both help with temperature changes as it warms up outside and encourage deeper sleep.”

9. LIMIT YOUR CAFFEINE INTAKE.

“Just like ‘day walkers,’ you have to eliminate caffeine consumption after 'lunch-time,’ says Duzan. "The less caffeine your rely on the better all-around, but it’s especially important you don’t consume any caffeine after 2 a.m.” Instead, drink water or juice. Juice contains sugar which helps to even out your metabolism during the night and consuming enough water eliminates the risk of dehydration and also keeps you awake. According to Duzan, if you’re in a state of cycling water through your body, you won’t sleep.

10. TAKE A "LUNCH" BREAK—BUT DON'T SPEND IT EATING.

"That 3:30 feeling” is a thing in the middle of the night, too. The hardest time during the night shift to be productive is between 3 and 5 a.m., a period colloquially known among night-shifters as “the 3 o'clock hump.” "There are a few ways you can deal with this, from taking a seated nap (zero-gravity chairs are great for this) to exercising,” says Duzan. (Of course, don't take a nap if it would put someone in danger or is prohibited.) "I have found that exercising is the most effective and won’t negatively impact your sleep cycle during the day. Take an hour, but don’t get lunch—go to the gym instead and eat a healthy snack." Gym not open in the wee hours of the morning? Keep a jumprope handy or do some pushups—anything to get your blood flowing.

10 Rad Gifts for Hikers

Greg Rosenke/Unsplash
Greg Rosenke/Unsplash

The popularity of bird-watching, camping, and hiking has skyrocketed this year. Whether your gift recipients are weekend warriors or seasoned dirtbags, they'll appreciate these tools and gear for getting most out of their hiking experience.

1. Stanley Nesting Two-Cup Cookset; $14

Amazon

Stanley’s compact and lightweight cookset includes a 20-ounce stainless steel pot with a locking handle, a vented lid, and two insulated 10-ounce tumblers. It’s the perfect size for brewing hot coffee, rehydrating soup, or boiling water while out on the trail with a buddy. And as some hardcore backpackers note in their Amazon reviews, your favorite hiker can take the tumblers out and stuff the pot with a camp stove, matches, and other necessities to make good use of space in their pack.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Osprey Sirrus and Stratos 24-Liter Hiking Packs; $140

Amazon

Osprey’s packs are designed with trail-tested details to maximize comfort and ease of use. The Sirrus pack (pictured) is sized for women, while the Stratos fits men’s proportions. Both include an internal sleeve for a hydration reservoir, exterior mesh and hipbelt pockets, an attachment for carrying trekking poles, and a built-in rain cover.

Buy them: Amazon, Amazon

3. Yeti Rambler 18-Ounce Bottle; $48

Amazon

Nothing beats ice-cold water after a summer hike or a sip of hot tea during a winter walk. The Yeti Rambler can serve up both: Beverages can stay hot or cold for hours thanks to its insulated construction, and its steel body (in a variety of colors) is basically indestructible. It will add weight to your hiker's pack, though—for a lighter-weight, non-insulated option, the tried-and-true Camelbak Chute water bottle is incredibly sturdy and leakproof.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Mappinners Greatest 100 Hikes of the National Parks Scratch-Off Poster; $30

Amazon

The perfect gift for park baggers in your life (or yourself), this 16-inch-by-20-inch poster features epic hikes like Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Once the hike is complete, you can scratch off the gold foil to reveal an illustration of the park.

Buy it: Amazon

5. National Geographic Adventure Edition Road Atlas; $19

Amazon

Hikers can use this brand-new, updated road atlas to plan their next adventure. In addition to comprehensive maps of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, they'll get National Geographic’s top 100 outdoor destinations, useful details about the most popular national parks, and points on the maps noting off-the-beaten-path places to explore.  

Buy it: Amazon

6. Adventure Medical Kits Hiker First-Aid Kit; $25

Amazon

This handy 67-piece kit is stuffed with all the things you hope your hiker will never need in the wilderness. Not only does it contain supplies for pain, cuts and scrapes, burns, and blisters (every hiker’s nemesis!), the items are organized clearly in the bag to make it easy to find tweezers or an alcohol wipe in an emergency.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiker Hunger Ultralight Trekking Poles; $70

Amazon

Trekking poles will help increase your hiker's balance and stability and reduce strain on their lower body by distributing it to their arms and shoulders. This pair is made of carbon fiber, a super-strong and lightweight material. From the sweat-absorbing cork handles to the selection of pole tips for different terrain, these poles answer every need on the trail. 

Buy it: Amazon

8. Leatherman Signal Camping Multitool; $120

Amazon

What can’t this multitool do? This gadget contains 19 hiking-friendly tools in a 4.5-inch package, including pliers, screwdrivers, bottle opener, saw, knife, hammer, wire cutter, and even an emergency whistle.

Buy it: Amazon

9. RAVPower Power Bank; $24

Amazon

Don’t let your hiker get caught off the grid with a dead phone. They can charge RAVPower’s compact power bank before they head out on the trail, and then use it to quickly juice up a phone or tablet when the batteries get low. Its 3-inch-by-5-inch profile won’t take up much room in a pack or purse.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Pack of Four Indestructible Field Books; $14

Amazon

Neither rain, nor snow, nor hail will be a match for these waterproof, tearproof 3.5-inch-by-5.5-inch notebooks. Your hiker can stick one in their pocket along with a regular pen or pencil to record details of their hike or brainstorm their next viral Tweet.

Buy it: Amazon

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Warby Parker Created a Spray to Prevent Your Glasses From Fogging Up When You Wear a Face Mask

They're smiling under the masks (because their glasses aren't foggy).
They're smiling under the masks (because their glasses aren't foggy).
Julian Wan, Unsplash

A face mask won’t keep you from getting enough oxygen, but it might keep you from seeing clearly through your glasses. When you exhale, your warm breath usually dissipates into the air in front of you. When you’re wearing a face mask, on the other hand, it gets funneled through the gaps around your nose and turns into tiny water droplets after colliding with your much colder lenses. In other words, it fogs up your glasses.

To prevent this from happening, Warby Parker has created an anti-fog spray that absorbs those droplets as soon as they form on your lenses, before they can cloud your view. It’s not the only product like it on the market—Amazon alone has dozens—but Warby Parker’s version has the added benefit of cleaning your lenses, too.

The perfect solution.Warby Parker

As Prevention.com reports, the spray is part of the company’s “Clean My Lenses Kit,” which comes with a bottle of anti-fog spray, a microfiber cloth, and a pouch for your glasses (or for storing the other two products in the kit). All you do is spritz both sides of your lenses, wipe them down with the cloth, and venture out for your fog-free day.

The spray works with any type of lens, which makes it a useful innovation even for people who just wear regular sunglasses. It can also come in handy during plenty of other fog-inducing situations, like sipping a hot beverage or cooking over a hot stove.

You can order a kit online for $15, or look for one in your local Warby Parker store. In the meantime, here are a few DIY ways to keep your glasses from getting foggy.

[h/t Prevention.com]

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