Night shift weight gain

Danielle Reysen
night shift

A common question that gets asked is: I recently switched to working night shift and I am gaining weight…why? On average a third shift worker will gain an extra 10 pounds solely from working nights.

The main reason for the weight gain is loss of sleep. Many people switching to a night shift position are unfamiliar on how to sleep during the day. The reduction in sleep has a direct effect on our hunger and appetite and it is not a positive result. Getting inadequate amounts of sleep alters the levels of hormones that regulate hunger, causing an increase in appetite and a preference for calorie-dense, high carbohydrate foods, which can contribute to weight gain.

Sleep loss can interfere with the body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates, resulting in high levels of glucose in the bloodstream. Excess blood glucose promotes overproduction of insulin which, in turn, promotes the storage of body fat and can also lead to insulin resistance. Many shift workers do not eat as well on the night shift as on the day shift. Often this can be attributed to limited food options on the night shift that consist of sugary vending machine options, microwave meals, or late-night food delivery restaurants. Shift workers commonly eat more or increased snacking to try and improve alertness on the night shift.


  1. Pack a lunch and eat healthier options
  2. Drink plenty of water
  3. Mirror you’re eating to that of working day shifts hours
    • When you wake up eat breakfast items, not dinner
    • Small meals
    • Do not eat large meals before bed time
    • Do not drink caffeine up until you leave to go home
  4. Make sure you get in exercise
    • As simple as taking the stairs
    • Walking to someone’s office instead of calling
    • Walk during your lunch break
  5. Get support from another employee that you work with
  6. Get enough sleep during the day and be consistent

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