In my previous post The Dark Side, I talked about some of the cons that the graveyard shift can bring. I know though from my own experience as a police dispatcher, my husband in patrol, and my other law enforcement co-workers that it can be the most exciting shift to work, well more so on the weekend's but you get my point right? Although it can be one of the most fun shifts to work and often where all the good stories are, it can also create some health deficiencies.
I do not mean to be a Debbie downer, but graveyard can take its toll in the form of sleep disorders, gastrointestinal problems, impaired organ function and nutritional deficiencies. There are some vitamins you can choose to help you if you are suffering from any of those examples I just mentioned.
I realize I mention melatonin a lot and that is because I do believe in it and it has worked wonders for me. It does help fight sleep deficiencies. Our levels of melatonin are naturally produced in our bodies and peaks at night. On graveyard, we are fighting off the urge to sleep, and when you try to go to bed at 0700, your melatonin levels are way down. This is why I mention that the melatonin could be one of your options to use on those days you seem not to be able to knock yourself out and need a little something that is not habit or addiction forming. I also have mentioned some other natural sleep aids in a previous blog post that you can find here.
Living like a vampire and only coming out at night has its setbacks in the vitamin D department. You lack sun exposure. Also as a side note hunkered down and not seeing the light of day in the dispatch dungeon can also make you deficient in that area as well. It did for me. Most days if I was not working I was at home, inside with the kids doing school and housework. I now take vitamin D regularly. Vitamin D is produced naturally in your body when exposed to the sun. Not having enough of this can lead to weaker, brittle bones and can form into osteoporosis. Vitamin D plays a vital role in absorbing calcium. If the pill form is not for you, try consuming milk, yogurt, or fish such as salmon, trout, or tuna to add it to your diet.
Vitamin C is not naturally produced by our bodies; it is found in citrus fruits and greens. It is needed to help form our blood vessels, collagen, cartilage, and muscles. You gotta eat your spinach baby! Ok so maybe you are not a spinach buff like Popeye, but you can still get it through berries, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, and broccoli. If you think you will have a cheeseburger and that one lettuce leaf will count, you are sorely mistaking! You need to eat a bowl of it..or one orange should get you close enough!
Once again eating a well-balanced diet comes in to play for Vitamin E. This particular vitamin plays an important role in your vision, reproduction, the health of your blood, brain, and skin. It aides your cells in protecting you against heart disease and cancer. According to the Mayo Clinic, a solid, well-balanced diet is better
Getting off of that graveyard living would be ideal for your health, however, whether you can not get off of it due to seniority, school, family, or you plain do not want to because that is where the adrenaline rush is, I get it. Hopefully adding these suggestions into your graveyard life will help you adjust to that way of living and make the most out of your health while you are there on patrol.