Diabetes and Shift Work: Tips for Control

Planning is a must when you have diabetes. Determine the level of stress associated with your job because stress can influence your ability to control your blood glucose levels. Do your homework by asking questions and making plans to take care of your diabetes and promote optimal glucose control.

Ask your supervisor

• What are the nature and specific hours of your shift (first, second, third shift, or a combination)?
• Will I be working overtime?
• Will my shift rotate or be consistent?
• If it rotates, how often?

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Adjust your sleep patterns

Make sleep a priority. It is essential to managing your diabetes and your overall health.
• Ask your diabetes care team for advice, especially if you have had insomnia or other sleep/wake disorders.
• Try earplugs to snuff out noise.
• Sleep in a dark room.
• Keep the room temperature comfortable.

Monitor your intake

• Record your meals and snacks (types and times) to determine if glucose patterns change.
• Talk to your diabetes care team about adjusting meal schedules to your shifts.
• Ask permission to bring food from home if healthy meals and snacks at work are not available during shift times.
• Limit caffeine (especially toward the end of the shift) to minimize sleep disruption later.

Know your meds

• Know what you need to take, when to take it and potential side effects.
• Tell your supervisor if any medication could interfere with your work.
• Have a plan and supplies for prompt treatment if you take diabetes medications that put you at risk for hypoglycemia (low blood glucose).
• Tell your diabetes care team that your shift has changed so they can help determine if your medication dosage, timing, insulin type, and schedule need to be modified.

Consider your activity

• Does your job require lifting, sitting, walking?
• Are there more active and less active days?
• Is your activity consistent throughout the work shift or intermittent? (Changes in activity can affect the dosage of your medications.)
• Discuss your work activity and how it compares to your activity at home with your diabetes care team.

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