“I usually work on Mondays, so Sunday nights take a toll on me. Reading the Sunday newspaper is not as relaxing for me as I thought it would be.”
eat and drink well
“Lack of sleep is definitely related to hunger,” says Foster. “Even a relatively short period of sleep deprivation can initiate the release of the ‘hunger hormone’ ghrelin, which can result in significant shifts in the metabolic axis over a short period of time.”
This means that cravings for carbohydrates, especially sugar, will arise. All of these, if sustained, can predispose to obesity and clinical diabetes. “And what do the majority of employers offer their employees? High-fat, high-sugar vending machines! We should offer protein-rich, easy-to-digest snacks that can be eaten throughout the night,” he says.
Dehydration is also a big contributor to shift worker fatigue, says Cowan. She suggests rehydrating with water when she wakes up. “Add an effervescent vitamin tablet with electrolytes and your energy levels will skyrocket,” she says.
“When I’m at work, I eat whatever I want for lunch, but I don’t eat anything for dinner. I wake up in the morning and go straight to the office, where I have my first cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal. At work.” I don’t drink alcohol at all,” says Webb. “A year or two after starting Today, he started thinking, ‘I wake up in the morning feeling sluggish, slow, and unable to think.
I get up at 3:30, arrive by 4:00, and leave immediately. I have a lot to think about and a lot to write about. It turns out that we are not doing very well. The reason was that I had eaten the night before and was still digesting it and it felt quite heavy. But when I eat for lunch, I don’t eat anymore. I often go to bed slightly hungry and wake up very hungry, which is good because it makes me feel very much alive.
“I don’t drink at all while I’m at work. I feel like it takes away a little bit of the fatigue I’m left with. After work that morning, I was so tired, and even after a bubbly beer, I had a brief You start to lose your ability to communicate.”
Shift work can also have a negative impact on relationships, with night shift workers being a staggering 600% more likely to get divorced.
Simon Alexander Ong, author of Energise: Make The Most of Every Moment (Penguin, £14.99), suggests spending time discovering your partner’s love language. Love Language (created by marriage counselor Gary Chapman) helps you identify the communication preferences that matter most to you and your partner.
They include words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical contact. “If you work shifts, you need to focus on connection, so it’s important to find things that make your partner feel appreciated,” he says.
Ong also suggests creating a positive family ritual where the family sits together and asks questions such as: “What can we celebrate today/this week?” If you are the first to leave the house and your partner is still sleeping, leave a love note by the kettle or drop the note in your pocket.
Cowan suggests booking a “date night” in bed rather than going out to dinner. “It costs nothing. You can reconnect and create space for sex and intimacy,” she says.
Justin Webb sees shift work as a way to break out of boring routines in long-term relationships. “It keeps it fresh. What if we were both bankers? I think it’s a way of life that gives.”
The Gift of a Radio: My Childhood and other Train Wrecks by Justin Webb (Double Day, £16.99) is available now. available from telegraph book