Whether you’re transitioning to the night shift at work, or need to clock in extra time to work on a project, working late can be a pain. Our bodies need sleep (unfortunately), and this evolutionary misstep can make it hard to stay productive late into the night (to say nothing of the next day).

Luckily, there are some things you can do to thrive during those extra hours at the office.

Here are some tips on how to survive a late night at work:

Prepare beforehand

If you know you’ve got a night shift coming up, try to avoid staying up late the night before. Get a good night’s sleep and do what you can to feel refreshed and ready for the day ahead, including having a good breakfast. It’s also important to take breaks during the day. Yes, you might be under the gun for an important deadline, but taking a few minutes to step away from your desk can instantly improve concentration and motivation. Taking a walk around the neighborhood, getting some sun with a book, or meditating in a quiet room can give you the energy you need to plow through the rest of your day (and night).

Fuel yourself

If you can, pack food beforehand. The worst thing that you can do is raid the snack machine for processed and sugary snacks. These will only make you crash before your shift is over. Natural sugars and carbohydrates from fruits will keep your energy levels more balanced, and snacking on nuts and veggies can provide a better energy boost than a bag of potato chips. It’s also a good idea to avoid sugary sodas or sports drinks and to drink lots of water to stay hydrated. If you’re used to drinking caffeinated beverages during the day, be sure not to have any during the second half of your shift or you might not be able to sleep once you get home.

Keep moving

Little bouts of activity, like ten minutes of stretching or walking, can get your heart rate and blood flow going, and boost energy levels as the night goes on. Physical activity can also help to lower stress and generate new ideas or perspectives. Try to get up and move around at least once an hour; you can even set an alarm on your phone or computer to remind you.

Put the phone down (and go to bed)

The temptation to stare at your phone might be strong when you get home, but it’s best to disconnect. The blue light from electronics can affect your circadian rhythm and keep you from falling asleep (that’s all you need: working a long day and then tossing and turning). If you’re worried about this, you can also use desktop applications like F.lux, which will remove the blue light from your monitor while on the job. So, instead of scoping out Instagram and Snapchat, you’re better off reading, writing in a journal, or meditating.

Get some quality sleep

Working a long day and then burning the midnight oil is a recipe for fatigue and sickness, especially if you need to be back on the job early the next morning. To recover properly, make sure you’re getting at least 8 hours of quality sleep: keep your room cool, dark, and quiet and try to avoid eating too close to bedtime.

The day after

Eat balanced meals, with plenty of protein and fiber to get you through the day. Exercising can also help give you an extra boost of energy early in the morning, even if it’s just a few minutes of brisk walking and stretching. Late nights in the office are bound to happen, but if you plan ahead and prepare, you should have no problems surviving and thriving.


See also:

How to survive a late night at work

5 tricks to improve your productivity at work


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