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Fact File - Coping with the challenges of shift work











Shift work can wreak havoc on your life: interrupting your sleep and making it harder to eat healthily and take regular exercise.

Studies have shown that these factors create some inherent health dangers. For instance, interrupting the body’s circadian rhythm can increase the risk for heart disease and insomnia, and adversely affect a person’s eating habits, often causing them to gain weight. And there's an established link between shift work and high blood pressure, stroke, anxiety, depression, traffic accidents, menstrual irregularities and addiction.  More on the challenges faced when eating an unhealthy diet in our healthy eating the science page - more here.

Yet many people have found that working nights, rotating shifts and overtime is normally required in their career. Luckily, there are some proactive things shiftworkers can do to mitigate the dangers.

  • Making dietary changes can take time and energy therefore planning your food ahead is essential to help you be successful
  • Organisation is key to making healthy food swaps and writing a shopping list and stocking your fridge, freezer and cupboards with the essentials is necessary to help you eat healthily
  • Always plan ahead and jot down the foods you will be eating over the coming week in your food diary.  Use this as a guide to help you make the healthy choices
  • Sticking to regular eating times will help your body to feel refreshed and energised
  • Knowing your goals, writing them down and refering to them regularly will help you to mkae your healthy eating become an habitual part of your lifestyle


Managing shiftwork, health and safety guidance, produced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).  The guidance aims to improve safety and reduce ill health in the workplace.  This is a free-to-download, web-friendly version of HSG256 (published 2006). This version has been adapted for online use from HSE’s current printed version and can be downloaded or printed off here.

Are you a hormone driven carbohydrate monster?  Do you go for too long inbetween meals and become light headed with lack of fuel?  Read this article - go here

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