Rotating shift work.

  1. Rotating shift work.

    Well guys my Navy life has finally taken me to rotating shift work. I am concerned that I might not be able to excel or even maintain what I have through the next few months. Does anyone have any tips from previous experience about how to stay on top of eating and get "good" sleep during the day?

  2. Been doing this for 9 years or so. Its not hard to maintain your gains per se, but progressing might be harder for you. If you aren't going to be doing this for very long, don't worry too much. If you are use to always training the same way on the same days, be prepared to drop that mentality. I still never feel the same way on off days, so I try to get the most out of my workouts. If I feel great, then I do everything I want. If I feel like crap I don't try to force myself to do much, as you are already in a sleep deprived state sometimes. Overtraining is much easier with this type of schedule.

    My work area changes every set, so what has worked for me is to usually plan heavier workouts on my off days. If I can/have time to work out before working nights, it will always be less taxing workout.

    Sleep is the biggest issue for me. For the first few years I could easily adjust to the lack of sleep, but it eventually catchs up to you. If you live with anyone, let them know how the night shift will effect everything (ie, let them know you need to sleep and if they wake you up during this time you will kill them. 'nough said).

    My worst sleep problem is actually falling asleep before going back to work on days. The night before is a killer. I used to never sleep well for this, and it starts a work set off on a bad note and I felt "off" on the set I should feel best on. Some supps that can help: Valerian, melatonin, 5-htp, and the relatively new REM-3 from usplabs. I'm still testing the latter, but for the day set, this stuff has really helped with me feeling more awake all day.

    I don't know what kind of schedule you'll have (3 on 3 off, eowo, etc etc.). Even if I did, I couldn't say what will definitely work, so the bottom line is you have to be flexible and see what works best for you. Have some quidelines that you are determined to stick to (ie, X number of hours of sleep/rest, calories etc). Its way to easy to try to do too much when you work nights. Figuring out how best to stick to your guidelines will take some time, but I can assure you ignoring the sleep issues on this kinda schedule will eventually kick your ass in multiple ways. It can affect so many aspects of your life, losing some gains is minor to what else gets affected.

    perhaps if you post the type of rotating schedule you'll have and the shift length etc. we can give more suggestions.


  3. I worked rotating shifts for five yrs (nato) and yeh it sucked, but I found that working out at different times provided some benefits also. Your body adapts well to different environments including w/o times. So by changing times all the time it acts like a shock to your body. Sleep is another story, I just did the best I could, sometimes I slept great for a couple weeks in a row, but other times I suffered. Depending on how much you rotate try to get at least some sleep during the same hours as you transition.

  4. I've been working a rotating shift for most of the last 9 years, and agree it can be a chore to deal with at times. With some thought you can develop a very effective schedule for lifting, eating, etc.

    Sleep is the hardest thing to adjust to when working on a rotating schedule. Melatonin is something I've grown to depend on. I take it every night, as it is very likely my body produces very little melatonin naturally anymore due to the messed up sleep hours. I basically control when I'm ready to sleep with a combination of melatonin, and when working days I use a prescription sleep aid as well to help time my sleep. I find that half a prescription zopiclone is enough to put me out.

    The key to successfully sleeping during the day is to approximate a nighttime sleeping environment as closely as possible. The two major considerations are light level and sound level. To tackle the light issue, I block off the windows in my bedroom so that it is completely pitch black. Garbage bags work great for this. They are ugly as hell, but I value sleep much more than looks in that case.

    Adjusting from day shift to night shift isn't too bad most of the time, I find that I try to stay up a little later each night as the night shift draws closer. The first night is usually the worst, coffee can be your best friend. I'm fortunate that I can sleep at work when working nights, so if I get overly sleepy I can catch a quick nap. Adjusting from night shift to day shift can be very hard. For this I tend to try to go to bed one hour earlier every progressive day. This is where melatonin is very handy in timing when you go to sleep.
    For sound control I find that a small fan running in the room is usually enough to drown out most outside noises. For times that there is just too much noise I utilize earplugs.

    Meal timing can be tricky at times. I find that I don't count calories most days, but rather just try to eat around every 3 hours. My hours spent awake are so different from day to day that a calorie count is pointless. I vary carbohydrate intake depending on whether I'm lifting that day.

    I vary my workout times with my work schedule. When working nights, I prefer to lift in the afternoon before I go to work, as I tend to crank up the music at home, and doing so at 7 in the morning just isn't doable. When working days, I lift after work, as I'd need to get up at a ridiculous time like 4am in order to lift before work. This can lead to difficulties sleeping, as after a 12 hour workshift I can be pretty tired at times, and need to rely on stimulants to get myself properly energized. That's where the prescription sleep aid comes into play. I only need to use it 7 to 8 times a month, so I'm not worried about becoming dependent on it to sleep.

    I've dealt with a rotating shift for a long time, and have been working that type of schedule ever since I started working out. I imagine it has cut back on the overall progress I could have made, but I'm willing to make that sacrifice, as I'm in a great line of work (other than the hours of course), with a sweet retirement plan, good pay, no stress and pleasant atmosphere where the majority of my time is filled with hobbies at work. Gains lifting come second.

  5. tsc: I work 12 hour shifts 7 days in a row with 2 days off I reapeat this 3 times then on the 4th set I work 4 8 hour days and then have 4 days off

    I appreciate all the advice pretty much what I had in mind. I will get some trash bags or aluminum foil to block out light and I have plenty of melatonin and valerian in the pantry so I guess its time to get friendly with them again.

  6. Quote Originally Posted by Funny Monkey
    tsc: I work 12 hour shifts 7 days in a row with 2 days off I reapeat this 3 times then on the 4th set I work 4 8 hour days and then have 4 days off

    I appreciate all the advice pretty much what I had in mind. I will get some trash bags or aluminum foil to block out light and I have plenty of melatonin and valerian in the pantry so I guess its time to get friendly with them again.
    but what about nights vs days?? Obviously your work sets rotate and vary in length, but is this all nights? all days? or back and forth like what some of us have mentioned?


  7. That schedule is pretty brutal. With myself, the benefit of working 12 hour shifts is that it leads to more total days off. IE 7 days on, 7 off, or something like 2 weeks off total in a 5 week span. Your schedule must lead to some serious burnout!

  8. ok well the first set is 0700-1900 then second 7 days is 1200-0000 and the third is 1900-0700 and the fourth is something lke 0630-1430

  9. Ouch! That's brutal, but at least your sleep will remain partially in the same time frame, that will help alot! If it were me I'd get at least one w/o in on the off days and do 2 during the week, probably the first day then the 4th. Good luck man, if your determined you'll make it work!


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