Adapting to Shift Work

Jumping into shift work can be a major change in our lives. It’s not always a simple adjustment — it can be a process of aligning your mind, body, and daily routines to a different rhythm. This is true whether you’re new to the world of shift work or a seasoned pro.

While noticeable, the impact on your lifestyle doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It might mean adjusting your sleep patterns or rearranging your social activities. Approach changes like a scientist — make some guesses about changes you should make to align with your schedule, test those changes out, and repeat if they work for you. Over time, you’ll be adjusted and thriving in your new rhythm.

Here are some practical strategies to help make this transition smoother:

  • Time Your Commute for Punctuality: Ensure you always arrive at work on time by planning your commute with extra cushion. Being consistently on time is critical to your success on the job.
  • Build Your Sleep Routine: Establish a consistent sleep routine that syncs with your shift schedule. This might mean investing in blackout curtains or creating a pre-sleep ritual to signal to your body that it’s time to rest.
  • Support Your Physical Wellbeing: Prioritize nutrition by choosing wholesome, energy-sustaining foods over quick, processed options. A balanced diet is key to maintaining energy and health on a demanding shift schedule.
  • Build a Recovery Routine: Incorporate a routine that helps your body recover after a shift, like stretching. This can reduce physical strain and improve overall well-being.
  • Relax: It’s important to find ways to decompress after work. Whether it’s through pursuits like journaling, gaming, or reading, having a go-to relaxation activity can significantly reduce work-related stress.


  1. What specific strategies or routines could you create to adjust your schedule?
  2. How could adopting a scientific approach to changing your routine help you uncover a more effective schedule?