There are a good number of professions that require staying up in until very late in the evening or even until the morning.
Healthcare professionals, those who work in the BPO industry, IT, security, 24-hour retail marts and more have different body clocks that require a certain mix of nutrients to get them going—and still sane long after their shifts have ended.
The risks of lack of rest and sleep are many, and although working the night shift is a matter of managing your sleep cycle (in that you get your zzz’s during the day when the rest of the world is up and about), it simply isn’t the same. The human body is trainable, but it is by nature programmed to be alert and ready when the sun is out. This is why those who are new to the night shift or sometimes have been at it for years, still struggle with keeping their energy up.
While there is no single solution to surviving having to work when it’s dark out, you can start by doing something about your nutrition. Here are some vitamins that have been proven to help with wakefulness, alertness and mindfulness—so you can continue doing your job without feeling blank and floating.
1. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is not naturally produced by the body and the easiest way to obtain it is to get sun exposure early in the morning. Because those who work the night shift don’t usually get to see the sun, supplementation is needed. Studies show that night shift workers should take vitamin D3 (2000 to 5000 IU/day) and up to 40 to 60 ng/ml of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels. Supplements can substitute your reduced sun exposure and its effects on your bone’s density.
2. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 helps with proper brain development and can be a godsend for people who start to feel like zombies while working the night shift. B6 helps the body produce serotonin, which improves one’s mood, and norepinephrine, which helps you cope with stress. In higher doses, it has been proven to help treat certain types of illnesses, such as macular degeneration, vomiting and nausea, and PMS.
L-tryptophan is one of the precursors to serotonin production. This essential amino acid has been proven to help improve brain function and well-being. A lack of it can possibly lead to mood disorders, depression, poor cognition, insomnia, anxiety and other related health issues. It is found in abundance in turkey but is also available as a supplement. Tryptophan is also used to produce niacin, a B vitamin that aids in the proper development of the skin, digestion and nerves. Additionally, serotonin helps regulate sleep and wake cycles.
Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the pineal gland that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycles. As a supplement, it is often used as a short-term intervention for people who have insomnia or other forms of sleep problems. The role of melatonin in someone who works the night shift is as a sleep aid when you finally do get your zzz’s, improving sleep quality so you enjoy uninterrupted and complete rest before your next shift.