Stay Fit While On The Graveyard Shift

Working odd hours can take a toll on your health. Fight back with these tips.

For a lot of you Cosmo Chicks, especially those in the call center or IT business, hitting the sack is just wistful fancy—a dream that you really can't visit until the sun comes up. But we know that sleeping in too late is going to come back and haunt you. By then, having trouble sleeping will be the least of your problems. As Cosmo found in a study by Roy Lubit, MD, PhD on sleep disorders, "Inadequate or nonrestorative sleep can markedly impair a person’s quality of life."

After all, who really gets to sleep properly at 8AM after a grueling night shift anyway? You may just be doing your job, but that shouldn't stop you from leading a healthier lifestyle. Here's how to keep fit and healthy while you keep the Zs away—at least until you get to your warm welcoming bed.

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graveyardshift2.jpg1. Getting your rest back is the first step toward a healthier you. The US National Sleep Foundation has several things to say on the subject like keeping to the bedtime schedule even on your days off. Having a routine will help your body adjust and retain a semblance of normalcy.

2. Skip caffeine and alcohol. Drinking coffee will keep you awake for hours on end, and that's not a good thing, as Cosmo found in WebMD.com. There are also hidden sources of caffeine that you have to avoid like chocolates and tea. And then, there's alcohol. It gives you a less restful sleep and an overall bad day at work the next night, with or without the hangover.

3. Stuck in your cube? Do some basic stretching. Keeping your muscles limber makes you more flexible. Plus, you avoid getting sore all over. "When you're stressed, your muscles tighten, producing spasms and pain. Stretching eases that," Ellen Catahay, PTRP, tells Cosmo. "Try standing up and moving around every few hours. Also stretch your neck and your trunk." They’re spots that are compromised when you sit for too long.

4. Drink milk. Not only does it give you calcium for your bones, it also helps you sleep better. Protein that you get from it will provide you with much-needed energy. Coupled with exercise, milk aids you in keeping fit by promoting muscle growth. More muscle, less fat.

5. Explore small adjustments to burn calories while working. Try trading your office chair for a fitness ball, and you'll be improving your balance and working out your core at the same time, as Cosmo found in MayoClinic.com. Just be sure not to sit on it too long because you’re going to be hurting your back if you're not careful. You could also explore bringing in exercise equipment to work. When there's a lull, pick up that dumbbell. Or if you're not allowed to carry anything to the floor, squats are always good. Considered as a cornerstone of good fitness routine, it's something you can add to your fitness repertoire no matter where—or what time zone—you're at.

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