Having to work nights can disrupt your body’s natural rhythms and can make it harder to maintain a healthy lifestyle. While that can have a big impact on anyone, it increases the difficulty of managing diabetes. Understanding the challenges of managing diabetes while working night shift and finding effective ways to address them are key to supporting your health.
The Challenges of Managing Diabetes While Working Night Shift
A growing body of research reveals a direct correlation between night-shift work and poor glucose management. Not only are night shift workers more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, night shift is also associated with significantly poorer glycemic control.
Why is managing diabetes while working night shift so difficult?
- Dietary disruption: Working night shift means changing when and, often, what you eat. Without planning and commitment to a healthy routine, it’s easy to overeat and choose high-calorie processed foods over balanced nutrition.
- Sleep disruption: The human body is naturally primed to sleep during the night and be awake during the day. When your internal body clock doesn’t match your work schedule, that can have a big effect on your physical health, including your metabolism. A 2021 study on mice found that the risk of obesity and metabolic diseases increases “when the external world doesn’t match the internal body’s cycles,” and researchers “believe that this happens similarly when people work odd hours that don’t align with how human bodies are wired.” Night shift also increases the risk of sleep irregularity, which can decrease glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. That means it can be more difficult to keep your blood sugar in your target range.
- Monitoring disruption: Constantly working against your body’s circadian rhythms can be profoundly disruptive and make maintaining healthy habits more difficult. That includes your blood glucose monitoring routine. This may be especially true if you use a traditional blood glucose meter (BGM) that requires a cumbersome multistep testing process.
If you work night shift and struggle to stay on track with diabetes management, you’re not alone. Fortunately, there are ways to stay on track.
Healthy Strategies for Night Shift Workers
Managing diabetes while working night shift requires some planning and commitment to healthy routines, but a few simple strategies can make a big difference:
- Plan your meals: Create a healthy meal plan and prepare meals in advance. This will help you eat a nutritious, balanced diet so you’re less likely to be tempted by unhealthy foods.
- Sleep well and on a schedule: Working night shift can disrupt your sleeping pattern and affect the quality of your sleep. Improving both your sleep schedule and sleep quality should be a top priority. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Create, and stick to, a regular sleep/wake routine
- Avoid stimulants, including caffeine, for several hours before bed
- Make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet
- Switch off screens at least an hour before bed
- Practice relaxation or meditation techniques to fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply
- Stay active: While working the night shift can make it harder to stick to an exercise routine, it’s important to stay physically active outside of work. Exercise is beneficial for both physical and emotional wellness and can be an important part of diabetes management. Not only does it support healthy weight management, it also promotes better glycemic control. Of course, it’s important to be smart about your exercise routine—talk to your healthcare provider before starting a new regimen and take steps to prevent hypoglycemia.
- Monitor your blood sugar regularly: When it comes to managing diabetes when working night shift, blood sugar monitoring is one of the most valuable tools you have. Committing to a monitoring routine can help you prevent serious complications from low or high glucose levels and give you and your healthcare provider greater insight into how your treatment plan is working. If you’re struggling to check your glucose as often as you should with a traditional BGM, switching to a device designed to make monitoring as easy as possible may help.
Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about any difficulties you’re experiencing and any significant changes you plan on making.
Finding Balance With POGO Automatic®
The POGO Automatic Monitor makes managing diabetes while working night shift easier and more discreet than ever before. With POGO Automatic, you don’t need to carry separate lancets and test strips or find a private place to test. Lancets and test strips are built into each 10-test cartridge, so once you pop a cartridge into your monitor before you leave for your night shift, all you need to carry throughout your shift is the monitor. To check your glucose, you simply press a button, and the monitor will automatically lance, collect blood, and give you accurate results.
You can view your results on the monitor and via the free Patterns® for POGO Automatic app. The innovative app allows you to do the following:
- Create reminders so you don’t forget to test
- Track your diet, sleep, and physical activity
- Gain insight into your blood glucose patterns
- Share data with your healthcare team through the Patterns sharing circle feature
These benefits can be invaluable for creating a diabetes management plan that works for you.
Making healthy choices before, during, and after work is essential to successfully managing diabetes while working night shift. With POGO Automatic, you have a new, powerful way to stay on track no matter where you are.
Jaclyn Owens is a product director specializing in diabetes management tools. She is committed to using technology to empower people with diabetes and help them take control of their health.
All content on this website is for educational purposes only and does not replace the guidance of your healthcare practitioner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new healthcare regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.