Shift Work and Sport Performance

Shift Work and Sport Performance

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.

And all the changes that occur on a physiological, hormonal, psychological level…

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.

Disadvantages shift works

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.

Establish fixed meal schedules: Healthy nutrition should be a priority if you have different work schedules to your natural way of life. They’ll help keep you at your optimal weight, avoid gaining more fat, and help your metabolic and endocrine systems be as well regulated as possible.

Sleep disturbance

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.

It’s not the schedule itself that affects us, but the changes it cause to our natural biological clock. That’s to say, there’s Chronodisruption.

Social life

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.

Family life

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.

Some weeks you’ll be working out in the morning, others in the afternoons, and you might even have to train “after hours”: before lunch, on an empty stomach…

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.

Night shifts and sports performance

Keep in mind that, when sleeping and resting, we’re carrying out an important part of the training programme.

The important thing is to establish a fixed, marked timetable that’s easy for the person to implement over time and that doesn’t further disrupt your daily life.

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.
It can be useful to take short micro-naps during the day to restore normal organ system functioning.

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.
Melatonin is a hormone that determines the sleep-wake cycle; you can supplement your diet with melatonin to optimise sleep.

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.

How to be consistent in your training planning

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.

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About Isabel del Barrio
Isabel del Barrio
Isabel del Barrio really loves sport, demonstrating it from a very young age and sharing her enthusiasm and knowledge to this day
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