A brisk walk on the job or a few minutes on an exercise bike can boost alertness among your night shift workers, according to Circadian 24/7 Workforce Solutions.
“Exercise may increase alertness by raising the body temperature of the worker during the overnight period,” says Circadian. “The body temperature naturally drops by about two degrees Fahrenheit over the nighttime hours in order to induce and maintain restful sleep. By exercising, the body temperature is maintained and perceived sleepiness decreases.”
Not only does exercising on the night shift create an immediate burst in alertness, improve sleep quality and speed the transition to a block of night shifts, research has shown that workers who exercise are also more alert the following day after waking from sleep.
“This is probably due to the increased sleep quality they had following night-shift exercise. It’s a win-win for the workplace and the family if the health and happiness of the worker improves.”
It’s important to consider the right type of exercise for night shift workers, at the right time. Low-to-moderate exercise is preferable to intense exercise.
“When exercising on the night shift, timing is everything,” says Circadian. “It should be late enough to provide a lasting burst of energy through the difficult early morning hours, yet early enough so that it won’t interfere with sleep later in the morning.
The best time for a night-shift worker to exercise is between 12:30 a.m. and 2 a.m.
Some companies provide exercise equipment, such as a stationary bike, treadmill and weights. If your company is small and doesn’t have the budget to do so, you can still allow your night-shift workers to take brisk walks or perform other types of exercise on their breaks.
Circadian says companies that encourage workers to exercise on the job will likely see reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, lower stress levels, greater job satisfaction and less staff turnover.