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How to Keep Blood Sugar Levels in Check While Working Night Shift

When you are working a job that has irregular hours, you may find it poses some challenges to managing your health. Some jobs in the fields of healthcare, manufacturing, hospitality, security, firefighting and law enforcement can have late night, overnight and early morning shifts. And sometimes people who work in those fields may find themselves working different shifts throughout the year, the month or even the week. 

For individuals living with diabetes, irregular work hours can add a whole new layer of complexity to managing blood sugar levels. But with a little strategy, it is possible.  

Here are a few easy tips to help you stay on track even when your work schedule is unpredictable. 

1. Plan Your Meals and Snacks

Having a meal plan is very important. Try to eat at similar times each day, even if your work hours change. Pack healthy snacks and meals to take to work, so you aren’t tempted by unhealthy options. Good food choices can include raw vegetables, low sugar fruits such as berries, nuts and seeds, yogurt, and whole grain sandwiches. 

2. Keep Track of Your Blood Sugar Levels 

Checking your blood sugar regularly helps you know how food, activity, and stress affect your levels. If you notice your blood sugar is too high or too low, you can adjust what you eat or how much you exercise. 

3. Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water is a simple way to keep your blood sugar levels stable. Aim for a minimum of eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, but more if you are physically active, are pregnant, are recovering from illness, or are in dry or hot weather. Try to avoid too much caffeine from coffee or sugary drinks, as these can negatively impact your blood sugar. 

4. Get Enough Sleep

Lack of sleep can make it harder to control your blood sugar. It can also make that coffee or soda during the night shift much more tempting. It’s best to try and get at least 7-8 hours of sleep or more. It’s helpful to practice good sleep hygiene by creating a bedtime routine.  Keep bedtime and wake-up time as consistent as possible, even on your days off.  Limit use of electronic devices 2 hours prior to bedtime.  Also avoid eating large meals or strenuous exercise before bed. Sleep in a dark, cool, quiet place.     

5. Exercise Regularly

Physical activity is a great way to lower your blood sugar. It’s helpful for your physical health, improves mental health, management of stress, and contributes to more restful sleep. On days you work, even a quick 10-minute walk on your break can help. Try to find time for longer workouts on your days off.   

6. Watch for Signs of Trouble

Sometimes, work stress or odd hours can make your blood sugar too high or too low. Signs that things might be off include feeling extra tired, thirsty or dizzy. Headaches are another sign. If you notice these symptoms, check your blood sugar levels and talk to your doctor if things don’t improve. 

7. Talk to Your Employer

If possible, talk to your boss or human resources department about your health needs. Most employers will try to help you work around your medical needs, especially if it means you’ll be healthier, happier and more productive at work. 

8. Stay Prepared 

Always have a small emergency kit with you. Include things like extra medication, glucose tablets, or a snack. This is especially important if you often work different shifts. 


By following these tips, you can help keep your blood sugar levels more stable while working irregular hours. Remember, managing your blood sugar well not only helps you feel better but also can make you more effective at your job. Stay healthy and take good care of yourself, no matter how busy things get! 

Author: Kelley Soucy, RN, CDCES | CCS Health       

This site is for educational purposes only. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider before making any decisions about your health.