We tell you about the relationship between shift work and sports and how it affects performance.
A profession where we’re constantly changing schedules can have harmful effects on our health, and resultantly on sports performance.
Variations in schedule and performance
Leading a lifestyle at odds with the rest of society alters regular, cyclical, biological functions that can be categorised into three rhythms:
- Ultradians, greater than 24h
- Circadians, with a 24h rhythm
- Infradian, under 24h cycles
Circadian rhythms (the biological clock of our bodies) have the most impact on shift work, as well as the difficulty of managing training and rest schedules.
Disadvantages of shift work
Shift work can increase the likelihood of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases as well as immune system conditions, due to changes in biological rhythms.
This is alongside sleep disturbance and mood swings.
Learning to manage your lifestyle and schedule to minimise the potential disruption caused by rotating shift work will help you perform better both physically and cognitively in all other areas of your life.
Eating habits, shift work and sport
One of the consequences is an increase in cortisol levels and hormonal alterations, which usually cause anxiety or uncontrolled eating.
Sleep deprivation has been linked to certain issues related to:
- Glucose metabolism,
- Increased appetite; and
- A decrease in energy expenditure.
This can lead to insulin resistance and/or diabetes and obesity.
This is one of the most pronounced effects on people with changeable working hours, and certain strategies should be implemented to minimise the harmful effects.
The human being is a social being, it needs to be part of a community or group.
Proper planning of different social activities, exercise and meal times is essential to ensure the healthiest possible lifestyle.
Combining training, shift work and family can be challenging. But it’s something you can plan for beforehand, and you’ll need to give it the highest priority.
Night shift and sports performance
We know that proper rest is a necessary process for the repair of cells, organ systems and nervous system, and that it plays a key role when it comes to recovery and sports performance.
Keep in mind that, when sleeping and resting, we’re carrying out an important part of the training programme.
How do you plan your workouts?
People tend to identify for themselves which part of the day they feel they have the most amount of energy and adjust their training schedules accordingly:
- Some people train straight out of the night shift;
- Others do it in the afternoon, before their workday or morning shift begins.
Tips for integrating exercise into shift work
Don’t let your performance levels drop with these tips:
- People who work on changeable shifts do find out when such shifts will occur, so it’s important to plan everything carefully.
- Plan your meals well, and don’t miss any.
- Get enough hours of sleep.
- Meditate, which can alleviate anxieties resulting from shift work.
How to be consistent in your training planning
If you want to get the best results from your training or in a competition, you need to be meticulous with your planning and programmes. This is essential.
You may not be at 100% every day, but you won’t know until you try…
Hiring a trainer, who will be able to take care of the planning, is always a good idea. There will be times when decisions will have to be made with a cool head and not because of our emotional state.
Your trainer will establish the training and recovery days and you’ll be able to give him feedback, everything will adapt dynamically and everything will work in unison.
If you choose to do the planning yourself, you’ll already know that the above falls on you. Sometimes the end goal can get lost, and training is often carried out according to our preferences and not on the aspects we need to improve.
Keep that in mind!
The same goes in terms of nutrition. If you don’t have a nutritionist, you’ll have to calculate and plan your diet exactly.