Mainely Running
Join me as I train in Maine and race all over the world in pursuit of my goal to run a marathon on all 7 continents

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Time Changes and Night Shifts

One of the biggest changes, and challenges, I've faced in the last year with my new job is the disruption of my very regular schedule. My life used to run like clock-work, up at 6, running at 6:15, in the shower at 7:30, eating my pre-prepared breakfast at 8..... you get the idea. But with my new job, that's impossible. First of all, there is a 3 hour time difference between Maine and in California. Add in super early morning flights, flight delays that mean I don't arrive until late at night, and the need to occasionally work the night shift, and I am totally out of wack. At first my poor body was a wreck, I was exhausted and sick all the time. But I've developed some strategies that seem to be working.

-For short trips, stay on your home time. I am usually only in CA Monday to Thursday, so I try to stay on Eastern Time. I am up by 4:30 or 5 in the morning California time, and try to be in bed by 8:30 at the latest. It is good because I can get in a long (albeit dark) workout and still be at work early. It isn't so good for the social life though, I'm usually the loser falling asleep at the dinner table.

-If you have to adjust to a new time zone, do it slowly over several days. I do this if I know I'm going to have to work the night shift. I try to stay up later by an hour or 2 and then sleep an hour or 2 later in the morning each night for several nights.

-Get in a workout. This is seriously the best way for me to reset my clock. My body is used to working out in the morning. So if I sleep and then immediately hit the gym it reprograms my body into thinking it is morning. And it is an instant energy boost.

-Eat cleanly. I, like most people, have the tendency to  start craving salty, fatty, junky foods when I'm really tired, especially when it's the middle of the night. But while the quick hit of caffeine and sugar helps for a little bit, you ultimately and crash and feel worse. Monday night for example I was working 10 pm to 7 am, and had no time to turn my sleep schedule around, so I was dragging. When I got to work, there were mint chocolate covered espresso beans. So I downed a few handfuls, washed down by coffee. I was super jittery for a couple hours, and then I just felt sick to my stomach and exhausted. I find that high protein, low carb helps me last longer and feel more alert.

-Take a sleeping pill if you have to. This may be controversial, but sometimes I just need to sleep. I try to use a straight sleeping pill, such as unisom, and not anything with unnecessary other ingredients, such as tylenol pm. I try not to do this more than once a week, and never mix with alcohol.

Any other road warriors or night shifters out there have any suggestions?

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