WellSpan Home

Quick Tips: Diabetes and Shift Work

Get Started

Managing diabetes is all about setting a healthy routine of medicine, eating, exercise, and sleep. But when you work night shifts or have changing work shifts, it can seem like there's nothing at all routine about your life.

It's definitely more of a chore to manage diabetes under such conditions, but it can be done. These tips may help.

Get organized

  • Talk to your doctor, registered dietitian, or diabetes educator. He or she will help you make a plan for dealing with your shift work.
  • Have a backpack, briefcase, or large purse that always contains your at-work essentials, such as:
    • A blood sugar meter and supplies.
    • Planned snacks.
    • Emergency snacks.
    • Medicines.
    • A water bottle.
    • Lunch.
    • An ice pack, if you don't have access to a refrigerator.
  • Tell your employer that you have diabetes. Show him or her your plan. Ask for regular breaks, a place to store and take your insulin or other medicine, and a place to rest when you need it. The American Diabetes Association offers counseling to help you learn your rights on the job.

Manage your blood sugar

  • Test your blood sugar every couple of hours. Working night shifts or constantly changing shifts can affect your blood sugar in ways that may surprise you.
  • Keep a detailed record of your blood sugar readings, medicine doses, exercise, and sleep. This will help you and your doctor see patterns and make plans to deal with them.
  • If you haven't already, consider updating your blood sugar meter. Newer ones do a lot of tracking for you. They record trends and keep track of carbohydrate averages per meal.
  • If you take insulin, consider using an insulin pump.

Plan your meals

  • Try planning a week's worth of your at-work lunches at a time, so you avoid the snack machine or the nearby fast food restaurant.
  • Are you often too tired to make dinner after work? Keep a supply of healthy, ready-to-eat snacks, such as:
    • Hard-boiled eggs with dried fruit.
    • Applesauce sprinkled with sunflower seeds.
    • Cheese sticks with whole grain crackers.
    • Sliced carrots and hummus.
    • Single servings of low-sugar yogurt or cottage cheese.
    • Peanut butter on whole wheat bread.
  • Some jobs make it hard to take a snack break. Keep something in your pocket, like a small bag of dried fruit or unsalted nuts or a fruit-and-nut bar.

Keep up your exercise

  • It may be harder to keep up your regular exercise routine at home when you work nights or your shift keeps changing. Find a way to make it part of your routine. Set some goals. Take the time to think about what is getting in the way of your success and what you can do to get around those barriers.
  • At work, take a walk during your breaks. If you work at a desk, do stretches in front of your computer.
  • Use your commute to do some extra walking. Park several blocks away, or get off the bus a few stops early.

Get enough sleep

  • Avoid caffeine drinks 4 to 6 hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid heavy meals close to bedtime. But a light snack may help you sleep. Ask your doctor if you should snack before sleep.
  • Be aware of a problem called shift work sleep disorder. If you have trouble sleeping because of your work shift, talk to your doctor.
  • Measure your blood sugar before you go to sleep. This is especially important if your sleep time changes.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerRhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator

Current as ofDecember 7, 2017


Are you sure you would like to cancel?

All information will be lost.

Yes No ×

About the provider search

This search will provide you with WellSpan Medical Group and Northern Lancaster County (Ephrata) Medical Group primary care physicians and specialists. If we don’t have a WellSpan Medical Group physician to meet your criteria, the search will expand to include community physicians who partner with WellSpan Medical Group physicians through the WellSpan Provider Network or provide care to patients on the Medical Staffs of WellSpan’s Hospitals.

×

Schedule Your Next Appointment Online with MyWellSpan

Use your MyWellSpan patient portal any time to view available appointments, and pick the date and time that best suits your schedule.

Go to MyWellSpan

New to this practice?

If you don't have a WellSpan primary care provider and would like to schedule a new patient appointment with a provider who is accepting patients, just log into your MyWellSpan account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to see the offices that are accepting new patients in relation to your zip code. If you are not enrolled in MyWellSpan, go to https://my.wellspan.org, call 1-866-638-1842 or speak with a member of the staff at a participating facility to sign up. New patient scheduling not available at all practices/programs.

Already a patient at this practice?

If you already have a relationship with a WellSpan practice, simply log into your account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to schedule an appointment with any provider or practice that already counts you as a patient. Online scheduling varies by practice/program.

×