Night shift workers and training

So I work nights Monday to friday and normally wake around 08.30 on a Monday and am up for around 23hrs till I go to bed on Tuesday morning after work. But I normally wake after around 6.5hr. And normally get around 6-7hr sleep for the rest of the week. Still been completing my work outs. Ssb mid volume.

Just want to see how much sleep others are getting and how there training is effected

I work midnights. I go to bed between 6 and 8am depending when I get home. Usually sleep for about 5.5-6 hours as soon as I get home. Once I’m up, I’m awake until I go to bed the next morning. Sometimes I’m tired getting on the bike but wake up and get comfortable once I’m going. I haven’t really noticed a negative impact but I’m sure it’s not the best scenario. I usually train in the mid afternoon once I’ve been up for a few hours.

My nights are somewhat random on the schedule, but I find that if I do a bunch in a row my motivation is low. I will typically workout in the afternoon after sleeping 4-6 hours. RPE is high, but I don’t have to turn down the intensity. So the legs are there but the mind is not.

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Agreed :grinning:

Initially I though it might be more appropriate in the ‘Early Morning Workouts’ Thread :joy:


Let’s face it. Having to work nights is shit.


I fly red eyes 3-5x/month. The way it works is I’m up for about 21 hours by the time we land. I can only nap 2-3 hours and really foggy the rest of that day and training is not effective. The next day is better but, still not 100%. Usually the second day home is good.

Are night shits anything like night sweats? :joy:


I’m really struggling with this. I just started working 12 hour night shifts as a critical care RN and the stress and schedule have made it really hard for me to stick with a training schedule. I normally get home by 8, try to be a sleep by 9, wake up around 3, and work out at 4 before going back to work at 6:30. It’s been rough though and I need to find more motivation.

@gbreault, Are you doing 3 12’s in a row? If so then I’d do a hard workout on the day you start your block of shifts. Maybe on the days you are working throw an easy black or Baxter in there, or something short and hard like bear creek. Then get back to business on your off days.
I’ve been living the critical care lifestyle (nights and days) for 10+ years. It ain’t easy to beat your buddies and do that kind of work.

I work a repeating pattern of 4 days on (Sat-Tue), 5 off, 2 on, and 3 off. That 4 day stretch is the hard part as all I want to do that first day off is sleep. I have a lot of time off vs a regular schedule though and think it’s more a motivation issue.

Hard to stick with one of Chad’s plans with that. Do a high volume type week then one light week?

I work haphazard runs of 2*12 hour days then a swing into a single 12 hour night followed by 1/2 days off depending. I find I can manage high volume sweetspot base with a little shifting of workouts but once it increases to build or peak, I find the intensity very difficult to manage, easily tipping into to insufficient recovery. I get 3-4 hours sleep post night then can do an afternoon sweet spot session with a greater RPE than normal but typically complete-able. I’ve tried in the past to race or do higher intensity work and I find the effort depletes me to such a level I’m still recovering two days later. I treat pre nights as a normal day so I’ve raced/done big TR sessions and done long endurance outside with little predictable effect on either my night shift or the day after.

Ultimately though working nights makes me slower :frowning:

Touched upon this on episode 181 but only scraped the surface. It is very hard for me to get a full 8hrs of sleep while working nights. I typically get home around 7am, sleep from 7a-12p, smash some workouts, eat, and try to sleep for as long as possible before getting ready around 5pm for my 6pm night shift. One of the biggest things I have found outside of the importance of the sleep schedule while working nights is the importance of getting nutrition in. I personally do not have the biggest of appetites in the middle of the night. I make sure I eat some substantial calories every 3-4hrs and try to consume at least 1-1.5L of water throughout the night and space it out as evenly as possible. Trying to tackle the demands of training sleep deprived but also at a caloric deficit is a losing battle. Hope that helps.

"One of the biggest things I have found outside of the importance of the sleep schedule while working nights is the importance of getting nutrition in. "

I think you’ve hit a nail on the head there, definitely something I’ve not managed to crack yet.

Bumping up this thread

I recently moved to a 6p-4am shift from an 8-5pm schedule.
Doing this from Monday to Friday is tough since this work schedule is very new to me.

For the night-shifters, are you guys doing workouts BEFORE work or AFTER work ?

I find it hard to ride AFTER shift since I usually get tired and my body clock hasn’t adjusted yet even with 3 weeks already on this shift.

BEFORE WORK : Hot, even with 2 fans booming at me here in the equator (haha)
AFTER WORK : a bit tired, somewhat sleepy, sometimes groggy and wanting to sleep.

any thoughts?

When I worked nights I always did my workouts before work. After work I wasnt in a state to do anything but sleep!

I work 11p-7a, I come home and go right to bed. I’ll train in the afternoon when I get up or right before I go into work.

The few times I can get myself to do workouts during work stretches, it’s before work. I’m 41 and have younger coworkers that hit the gym after work pretty regularly. I work 12.5 hr night shifts as a critical care RN and find anything but endurance or recovery workouts really hard to do.

It takes months to get use to night shift. Also if you are doing it 5 nights a week you need to try and stay close to that schedule on the other days. I flip back and forth but only 4 shifts and 2 shifts in a row on a repeating pattern.

I’ve been working night shift more on than off for the last 10 years. I work a rotating shift schedule that’s 6p-6a. We work 2-2-3-2-2-3-2 (amounts to every other weekend off). I rotate back to a day shift when I’m off and typically avg 6 hours of sleep a night. I’m also a father/husband to 4 kids (one of which is special needs/medically dependent).

Last year I was a “day shifter” and started my first go at structured training. The first part of last year I tried working out first thing. I used the mid volume plans and would workout from 0300-0400. Shower and ready. Commute 30 minutes, dressed for shift by 0545 hour. Mid year I went to working all day and working out right before bed. I noticed that my workouts were more flat after the change, and my sleep quality was poorer. I further did not fuel appropriately and wasn’t recovering enough for the workload. I dropped the Sunday rides and reduced the TSS to just 4 workouts a week.

The crew has touched on this subject numerous times over the last year but here are my takeaways.

  1. Listen to your body. It’s fun to ride. It’s super fun to be fast. Not so much if the rest of your life feels like crap. Working shift work brings about a load of mental fatigue that effects the rest of your life experience. Understand when you need to dial it back and be ok with a lower volume of TSS during the week.

  2. Fuel your body. I read “Nutrient Timing” and was shocked that I was completely missing the mark in this respect. Sure I ate well enough, but I didn’t plan when I should be fueling my workouts. I also read “Endurance Diet” that was also a great resource on what to eat.

  3. If you fail to plan, plan to fail. USE THE CALENDAR!!! Be sensible with your time and when to work in your workouts. Obviously it’s better to workout earlier in your day, but find a consistent time in your schedule and block that out for training. Then be sensible with which training volume plan you choose. Start low but aim high. Build your base and then add the volume as you are able to consistently complete the workouts.

  4. Have a training setup at work where you’re able to take your training with you. I invested in a setup so I’m able to workout both at home, on duty, or commuting. Find what will work for you and your schedule and then stick with the plan! I have a riding buddy who sometimes meets me after work (0500 hours) and we will do training rides together. We are both TR users but on different trajectories. We also have different goals and keep that in mind when it’s time to do the work.

  5. Remember why you ride. Sure it’s to be fit, get faster, N+1…But at its core, the sport is downright fun. Don’t lose sight of that.

P. S. - Aim to consume approximately 1 gallon of water a day. It’s amazing how Hydration can play a major positive role in recovery, rest, and the adverse effects of working night shift. DRINK MORE WATER…

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