Graveyard. Swing-shift. Triple overtime. Second shift. 7p – 7a. Taking call. Anchor watch. Dog watch. Nightwatch. The witching hour (3a – 4a).

Okay, even though Stephen King uses some of these terms in his writing, this is not a horror-story blog. That is, unless you work 2nd or 3rd shift and don’t move much. Dread the thought! Sure, it may be dark and creepy outside. Yet, you’re not worried about vampires. Your concern is more likely the night air and that your internal rhythm sometimes feels inside out. One thing's for sure – it’s different than much of the world!

Even here at Wakeout, Wakefield had to remind us to pay attention to people who work those dark hours. It’s not that we’re in the dark. We just needed to have a Wakeout, wake-up moment.

This blog applies to you if you're a typical shift worker who leaves home for work, or if you're someone who works remotely. All of you working the dark hours keep the wires and vibes of public safety, industry, healthcare, shipping, and more, protected, churning, and cared for in the off-hours.

Plus, it’s for you if you have a honey who works when the sun's down and the moon’s up. You know all too well the relationship trip-ups that come with shift work. To say nothing of feeling fried and the realities of burnout.

Let’s talk about you! Some of this will sound serious, as when we get into circadian rhythm. Uh-huh, and working under artificial lighting – like, all the time.

We promise to keep this on the light side too! After all, anyone who works on the dark side sure deserves some light. Heck, where would the world be without you and your owl-hours peers (who-who)? Yup – you’re right, they’d all be asleep at the wheel! That’s cuz so much of keeping the clock and all systems functioning happens during the graveyard shift. Or one of those that’s not a M-F, 8a – 5p sort of gig.

And hey, any of us who have worked the night shift at some point know that camaraderie can be top notch. Boosted by some solid smatterings of humor...

Night Shift Challenges (aka Working in the Shadows)

Totally exhausted? We’ve heard night shift workers say they felt like they were running on empty. Hmm, make that dragging on empty! All while sitting too much or barely getting a break. No wonder it’s important to keep moving.

Fortunately, focused physical activity increases energy levels and helps graveyard shifters stay more alert when it matters most – during work. Oh ya, and driving away drowsiness before the ride home!

The first step is to face the challenges and strange feelings linked with working the graveyard and shifts other than days. Fortunately, physical activity helps people like you make it through the dark hours with more energy, alertness, and less stress.

Sedentary Lifestyle

Let’s put it this way: Too much sitting, lounging around, and hanging out watching TV is the living definition of a sedentary lifestyle. As you read (or scan) the next four night shift challenges, read between the lines. Being sedentary adds to the challenges!


Shift work can make you feel out of the loop with friends and family. Many of the things you enjoy happen when you should be sleeping, or you’re at work.

  • It’s hard to be spontaneous when working five nights a week and every other weekend! Concerts and other events aren’t always in sync with your precious night off.
  • Vacation is another challenge, especially if you’re new to the job. Ugh.

The social challenge is finding ways to reduce a sense of isolation and moodiness.


Let’s get even more serious – at least enough to underscore the not-so-good effects of shift work on health. Our intention is to be real about this. Not to overdo things!

A review of “randomized control trials of physical activity” for shift workers reveals some gloomy info. Shift workers have an increased risk for health problems, including:

  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Breast cancer
  • Cardiovascular illness
  • Being physically active is good, including for your overall fitness, sleep, and body composition.

Physical activity info gathered from shift workers in several countries and settings showed that:

  • Not many subjects achieved suggested activity levels each week.
  • Those who engaged in “physical activity interventions” had better heart–lung fitness.
  • Participants’ sleep improved with regular physical activity.
  • “Moderate intensity” physical activity leads to better health for shift workers.

You’ve got – regular physical activity breaks lead to positive health and wellness!

Circadian Rhythm

Those two words are the official name for peoples’ biological clocks. We each have a master clock made up of thousands of nerve cells. The shortened version of the clock’s story is:

  • It influences body functions such as hormone release, temperature, and digestion.
  • It’s related to the natural light – dark cycle.
  • Things that can disrupt a person’s circadian rhythm include jet lag, shift work, and light from devices during the night.
  • About half of night shift workers may have reduced sleep quality because their circadian rhythm is not in sync with their body’s clock.

Positive changes nurture your master clock – hour by hour.

Burnout Potential

Chances are you’re getting the idea that shift work can leave people feeling frazzled and disconnected.

  • That’s a setup for burnout. Especially if you're called upon to do more while delivering all the usuals of your role.
  • Worries about work performance can interfere with peace of mind and quality sleep.
  • Low staff numbers can create overwhelm, especially if your workplace lacks a solid backup system – like the ability to access help when needed – stat & pronto!

Take on the night shift challenges – wipe out burnout potential!

Movement: Take On the Witching Hour Challenge!

That’s the time of night when it’s hard to stay awake – even when standing up. Ugh. Being active in a fun way helps night shift staff cope with stress. These are pauses in your work action. Your wellbeing is the center of attention! This contributes to sleeping better during the day.

If you're someone who works odd shifts – don’t get stuck in one place! Move regularly and your health will thank you. Heck, you can do so with even a few square feet of space. It's time to stop being too cozy in your cushy desk chair. You’ve got it – now’s the time to move!

Take notice! Wakeout routines and info cut through monotony and  stress by guiding you with how to:

  • Make physical activity a priority.
  • Select activities that boost breathing – way to wake up!
  • Drive out aches and pains with energizing stretches.
  • Kick your colleagues into gear.
  • Sample and enjoy the perks of self-care.

Night Shift Stories!

Here are a couple of stories (aka case studies) of dark hours professionals who’ve found ways to stay healthy. You’ll read about the physical activity and other solutions they’re using to feel their best when off, and on, duty. This section is followed by a bevy of ideas that’ll help keep you feeling healthy and fit, even when it’s dark outside!


Will is a rehab nurse who works swing-shift and every other weekend, 7p-7a. He misses out on lots of social time even though his buds sometimes join him for a Wakeout session at 3 am (the witching hour). They complain about being up, then share a belly laugh as they get in the groove. On other nights Will does moves with staff, or as part of a therapist-authorized break with the unit’s favorite night owl. Funny thing – even the night supervisor likes to schedule in some physical activity breaks with Will and his team.

Will’s finding that Wakeout’s info is boosting his well being in other ways. He’s cut back on coffee and increased hydration, helping his alertness level. Those changes, and switching to healthy snacks, have balanced his energy – and his mood!


Jamila is a food plant manager who works remote nights during the week. She needs to be fully alert as she monitors AI computer outputs about food safety and boiler and machine efficiency. Her role involves reporting off to the day crew and staff who cover weekends.

Jamila’s remote office hours are typically quiet as her family sleeps. Recently adding interior insulation assures that – especially when she chuckles during her physical activity breaks. Those keep her going! They’re fun, especially now that she's coerced another manager into joining her on Zoom. They meet up twice each shift, first reviewing plant data, then getting down to being fit. That’s easy to do with Wakeout’s endless options! Jamila recently started doing Wakeout Kids with her children. They want to join in on what Mom does while they sleep!

Night Shift Solutions: Activity & More

Night Shift Grim Statistic-Crushing Solutions

You’re right! Wakeout has an array of tips for feeling your best, even when you work odd shifts. Well, odd to the daylight-driven world. The aim here is to:

Nurture your circadian rhythm while boosting health benefits – regardless of the shift or day of the week.

🌗 Kick those grim health stats to the curb!

⌛ Bring on boosts for a focused mind and upbeat mood.

🌗 Help you share healthy ways of being with collegues.

Sound Sleep

The amount of sleep you get and other factors either support or detract from how refreshed and alert you are during work hours.

⏰ Set a regular sleep schedule, at times keeping those in place on your days off.

⏰ The goal is 7 hours of sound sleep.

⏰ Best to unplug at least 30 minutes before turning in with a wind-down bedtime routine, while keeping your room dark.

⏰ Pamper yourself with quality bedding and a clutter-free space.

🌗 Wakeout has a 3-minute wind down routine that gets you ready for dreamland.

Physical Activity's Peak Perks

Wakeout has tons of tips for feeling your best, even when you're not sitting all night at work. Here's some examples.

🐎 Physical activity breaks help shift workers stay more alert when it matters most – when punched in! (Oh ya, during the commute home...)

😊 Stress less and sleep better during the day.

🐎 Get into a fitness groove with 36 desk exercises that boost strength – and create a focused mind.


Chances are you're already aware of the pitfalls of caffeine. Even then:  

  • Coffee, energy drinks, and some teas may help you stay alert during the witching hour. Sadly, they interrupt deep sleep after your head hits the pillow.
  • Those same beverages lead to dehydration. Gosh, being in that state leads to workday fatigue, sluggish thinking, and a potential decline in health over time.

Yup, keep the water flowing!


What you eat can interfere with or support sound sleep! Simple foods and tips can make all the difference in your night shift and day sleep.

🍒 Tart cherries or tart cherry juice are sleep aids.

🥝 The above applies to kiwi and turkey.

🍰 Limit processed carbs that bog you down. Instead, add almonds that help to balance cholesterol and weight.

🍍Snacking on pineapple aids with digestion and limits inflammation. This is a good one to add to your snack-attack list!

🍇 Add red grapes, eaten from the bunch, or with a salad, to your night shift nutrition. They are packed with antioxidants and goodies that are good for circulation. Grapes in general are good for memory and mood!

Wakefield and the entire Wakeout community are dedicated to everyone having Healthy Work nights and workdays.

Please join us on our journey!

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