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Coping with Shiftwork

Shiftwork not only affects your sleep but it can have an impact on your diet, physical activity level and family and social time. A number of potential health external link pdf128KB risks are associated with shift work, so take time to learn what you can do to stay healthy.

Healthy Eating

Maintaining regular eating patterns and making healthy food choices will help minimize the digestive problems often associated with shift work. 
  • Plan three meals a day and enjoy one with family or friends 
  • Eat a balanced diet of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and lean protein 
  • Avoid high fat, fried and sugary foods 
  • Pay attention to portion size 
  • Drink plenty of water 
  • Limit caffeine, salt and alcohol 
  • Eat meals according to the time of day, not your shift


Fatigue is frequently a problem for shift workers, especially those working night shifts. These tips may help you get a better sleep. 

  • Keep your room cool, dark and quiet for sleeping during the day 
  • In hot weather, use air conditioning or a fan to cool your bedroom, or sleep in the basement 
  • Use an eye mask and ear plugs if needed 
  • Turn off your ring tone and use voice mail instead 
  • Avoid using sedatives 
  • Do not take part in vigorous activity immediately before your major sleep period 
  • Take time to relax before going to bed 
  • Make sleep a family effort
Talk with your family before you sign on for night or rotating work. Make sure that they understand how it will affect them. Once you accept the job, ensure that family and friends are aware of and considerate of your sleep schedule.

Physical Activity

Making time for regular physical activity can improve sleep and reduce stress. 
  • Try to make physical activity part of your wake up routine 
  • Plan to take short walks during shift breaks 
  • Add stretch routines while at work 
  • Look for a fitness centre with hours that fit your schedule 
  • Plan family activity time when you have time off 
  • Setting activity goals and tracking your progress helps keep you motivated

Work-life Balance

It can be challenging to maintain work-life balance while on shift work. There are some things that you can do. 
  • Organize family activities or outings on your days off
  • Keep a calendar of family events
  • Communicate your shift to family and friends
  • Try to have one meal a day together as a family
  • Check in daily with your family
  • Make time for you and your spouse


Nutrition Tips for Shift Workers external link
Eat Right Ontario 

Tips to Get Active external link
Public Health Agency of Canada

Related Links

Rotational Shiftwork external link
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety