Night shift and energy RARELY come hand in hand. In fact, many of my fellow shift workers and RNs are completely shocked when I tell them I work out 5-6 days per week regardless of working full time on night shift. Regardless, I make it work. The energy comes from within. You have to have focus and WANT to make it through. That is my advice for anyone that works a crazy schedule, yet want to continue to hit workouts on a consistent basis. You have to have REASON for what you do. You have to have GOALS. You have to think about the FUTURE you and how the outcome of hard work will OUTWEIGH the current feeling of tired.
I find it much easier to go to the gym before work. I have tried both before and after and I have found that, for me, I am wiped out by the end of my shift and going to work out right results in: a crappy feeling workout followed by the inability to fall asleep. A crappy workout and less sleep? No thanks..
Before my workouts I take “Amino Energy” from Optimum Nutrition–This is a supplement of amino acids (aids in muscle growth and repair) WITH caffeine to give me a little extra energy for my workout. If coffee works for you, you could do that, but I find that coffee before a workout upsets my stomach. Link below is the product I’m talking about:
I work three shifts per week—7pm to about 730am, being an RN, it always varies when I get out– you never know how long giving the next shift report will take or if a patient will go bad and need a stat CT right at shift change. My schedule looks something like this:
Day 1: First Night
Sleep normally night before. Workout in AM– anywhere between 9-1pm (no later) Take a nap from 1:30pm – 4:30pm (with the help of melatonin) Get ready, go to work at 7pm.
Day 2: Second Night
Come home around 8am. Go to sleep 8-3pm. preworkout meal, Go to gym anywhere between 3:30-6pm. Work at 7pm.
Day 3: Third Night
SAME as night 2 OR REST DAY– currently I take 1 rest day per week, I like to schedule that during one of my workdays. This gives me the opportunity to catch up and sleep 8am-5pm. I work all three shifts AND I RECOMMEND THIS. Get into a sleep habit and get them all out of the way.
Day after my third night, I come home and sleep at 8am like normal, but because I do not work that night, I only sleep until about noon or 1pm at latest. I then, get up, get moving, and go to the gym!
From there, I have 3 nights of normal sleep, in which I have no problem sleeping for a full nights sleep. Usually 930/10pm until 7am.
Once you start working out –you will get energy! I know it’s very difficult to begin, but I promise as soon as you start moving you will gain more energy than what you started with! This also really helps going to work– if you train before work like I do. I always feel wide awake and alert for the beginning of my shift–usually until about 0200, when the dreaded and inevitable tired hits. But, since beginning to work out directly before work, I have not needed pre-work coffee/caffeine of any sort!
So, In summary, get your mind focused on your goals! Don’t “find time” for the gym, you MAKE time for the gym. Read my other articles regarding night shift for help elsewhere such as: Night Shift and Sleep and Night Shift and Nutrition
Work out before work and gain energy for your shift!
If possible, keep your nights together so you can get into a nice routine for those days.
If you work the dreaded night shift and continue to kick butt in the gym on a consistent basis comment with your tricks and advice! 🙂 Hope this helps anyone who is currently struggling to find a healthy and fit balance with a hectic schedule.