How to Survive Night Shift with a Desk Job

Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links, meaning we receive a commission if you decide to make a purchase through our links, but this is at no additional cost to you. Please read our disclosure and privacy statement for more info.

“Why sitting down is destroying you”

“Sitting: The Silent Addiction”

“Sit smarter, not harder”

Do you have a night shift desk job and struggling to keep fit and healthy? Here are some practical ways you can make it work. Stay healthy despite working night shift sitting down! | | #shiftwork #nightshift #deskjobhealth #nightshifttips

As I was sitting, ironically, scrolling and weaving deeper into the world of YouTube, I stumbled across these thought-provoking Ted TalksOpens in a new tab.. If you’re familiar with these presentations you may agree they are super informative and help make you a better, well-rounded person in my opinion.

Anyway, these particular talks not only made me stop and think but they motivated me to find the closest rocket I could and fire it up my backside!

For those who are new here, I’m Dan and I work the permanent night shift, full time. The difference between my job though and those you may classically consider as the ‘typical night shift profession’ like emergency services, is that mine is based in an office, behind a desk.

If you’re in a similar position and struggling to find your sweet spot, throughout this post I will dive into the ways I prioritize spinal health with movement and exercise and how I live and promote healthy living despite being behind a desk for extended periods.

Instead of overwhelming you with an enormous list, I have chosen my favorite five things I do myself in the office.

I’ve also given you a bunch of videos in the hope you can easily implement them without too much drama.

How I Survive the Night Shift with a Desk Job - Multiple computers on in a dark room - The Other Shift

How to Survive Night Shift with a Desk Job

For a bit of fun, let’s firstly look at the similarities and differences between a day desk job vs night shift desk job.


Prolonged sitting leading to a risk of chronic healthOpens in a new tab. conditions like issues concerning your joints, blood pressure, and heart complications, plus, an increase in cholesterol and blood sugar.

Regardless of the sun or moon shining, we both need to find the time and the motivation to exercise in order to make up the 10,000 steps required per day as recommended by the American Heart Association.Opens in a new tab.


Safety concerns – walking, running or cycling to and from and also around work may be unsafe in the dark, particularly if there is no security presence available.

Due to limited, skeleton staff, it’s difficult to take a friend and leave the office to walk around and/or exercise up and down the stairs

Motivation to be healthy on night shift can be difficult, period. Especially, if you had poor sleep leading to suboptimal health and behavioral choices

I’m not much of a ‘sugar coating’ kind of guy… Just ask Em – that’s my lovely wife by the way who’s an ER nurse and co-creator of this website.

So, in my typical, non ‘beat around the bush style’, here’s the thing; if you work a desk job overnight night, moving often and making healthy food choices is an absolute necessity.

It’ll prevent bad things from happening like getting sick, unfit and even a little plump.

How I Survive the Night Shift with a Desk Job - Girl sitting at computer desk with hands on head looking down - The Other Shift

Staying Fit, Working Night Shift and Having a Desk Job

Here are five of my favorite methods to stay healthy while working the night shift, with a desk job.

Working Night Shift With a Desk Job Tip #1 – Get up and Move Every 30 Minutes

I know how easy it can be to get stuck in a project for hours on end without coming up for air.

Set a vibration timer on your phone (so you don’t annoy the entire office), set a separate digital clock or even use the timer on the computer to get up and move from your chair. Stretch the spine and move your legs just as you would on a plane.

Here are some ideas of what to do while you’re up and about to improve productivity and efficiency:

  • Use the bathroom furthest away
  • Drink from the water drinking fountain at the other end of the office
  • Walk to a colleague’s desk instead of sending an ‘in-house’ email, but don’t become an annoying pest every thirty minutes.
  • Roll against the wall using a spikey ball such as Fitness Mad spikey massage ballOpens in a new tab. targeting your hips and back or use a Foam RollerOpens in a new tab. on the floor to stretch the spine and roll your bum.
  • Simply walk around the office with a Serenilite Opens in a new tab.StressOpens in a new tab. BallOpens in a new tab. in your hands to promote the blood circulation and a wear fitness trackerOpens in a new tab. Opens in a new tab./ Pedometer watchOpens in a new tab. on your wrist to provide motivation and importantly keep track of your success.
How I Survive the Night Shift with a Desk Job - Man walking with white shirt and black pants smiling on the phone - The Other Shift

Working Night Shift With a Desk Job Tip #2 – Get out of the Office

Consider “walking meetings” as done by Apple’s late Steve Jobs. I’m not comparing myself to Mr. Jobs what so ever, but my biggest and best creative ideas seem to come to light while I’m walking around. Maybe there is something to it?

Next time rather than sitting to brainstorm an idea and chatting with colleagues, try walking around instead. Use the car park, lobby or any other space within your work environment you feel comfortable and is importantly safe to stretch your legs.

During your break get out of the office and don’t ever eat at your desk.

This not only gives your mind a chance to reset in order to take on new information, but it assists in digestion, stretching your spine and keeping your workspace tidy and free from crumbs!

If your tearoom is not big enough to sit or is simply not what you would call a “relaxing” space, try using your car for a time-out. If you don’t drive, find a space away from your desk to chill and eat your home-cooked meal.

Something to keep in mind, stepping away from your desk may be against the grain of behavior seen in your office, so stick to your guns and do it anyway, they will soon catch on.

How I Survive the Night Shift with a Desk Job - Two ladies standing at white board - The Other Shift

Working Night Shift With a Desk Job Tip #3 – Eat Well and Stay Hydrated

  • Don’t just eat out of boredom and instead schedule your meals before you come to work. Better yet, meal prep, which means planning, buying and preparing, if necessary, each meal for the week. You’ll avoid needing fast food and the vending machine, plus, it saves a bucket load of money.
  • Fast. Teach your body not to expect food every 5 seconds by eating your ‘main meal’ before your shift and fast until you get home.

I find this pretty challenging but some night shift workers rave about it because you’re burning fewer calories overnight and don’t need to eat. Why not try it or even the keto diet which implements similar strategies.

Saying “no thanks” to the chips and doughnuts is a game changer for the waistline. I am all about everything in moderation though so having it on the odd occasion is okay by me, just don’t pig out.

Energy crashes will happen after eating heavy stuff like pizza. Expect it and have a plan in place or simply avoid eating this kind of meal is my tip.

  • For your fluids, think good liquid calories instead of wasting them on soda and sugary energy drinks. Keep a water bottle by your desk at all times and consider spicing it up with some lemon juiceOpens in a new tab. or mint leaves.
  • Coffee is a no-go after midnight if you want to catch some quality zzz’s once you get home. Try green teaOpens in a new tab. instead, which to be honest I am just getting used to, but so far so good!
How I Survive the Night Shift with a Desk Job - Man sitting at computer desk stretching - The Other Shift

Working Night Shift With a Desk Job Tip #4- Exercise Where Ever and Whenever You Can

– Skip the elevator, escalator, and walkways. Take the stairs at least halfway if you’re up on level 15 or something. Incidental exercise my friend should not be overlooked.

– More frequent bathroom visits may seem annoying (if you’re drinking more water as I recommend) but use the opportunity to squeeze in a few push-ups at the bathroom sink, squats in the cubical or lunges across the bathroom. Just don’t split your pants.

Here is a great clip with 5 stretches you can complete at your desk, without even getting up!

Working Night Shift With a Desk Job Tip #5 – Focus on Stretching and Giving Love to Your Spine

I think Em’s YouTube yoga teacher (Yoga with Adriane) is rubbing off on me or maybe it’s the TED Talks? Who knows, but our spines are a big deal and we need to look after them, constantly. 

Here are a few ideas on how to do it:

  • Change your chair/desk and think outside the box to what that looks like – stability ball chair, Bosu ballOpens in a new tab., ergonomic chair or a Treadmill DeskOpens in a new tab. for something totally different. 

Summary: How to Survive Night Shift with a Desk Job

There you have it, my no fuss simple method of staying healthy and surviving night shift with a desk job.

I have reached the sweet spot where I know my body will crack a wobbly if I sit for too long, eat too much candy and become dehydrated, so I do everything I can to avoid this from happening.

In closing, to those working in the media, IT, marketing, the newspaper, driving delivery trucks and gifted aviation personnel working desk jobs overnight, preparing your meals ahead of time, setting a timer as a reminder to move and prioritizing your spine throughout the night will be a game changer.

Related articles – How to avoid Shift Work Sleep Disorder (SWSD)Opens in a new tab.10 Opens in a new tab.Must-Have Night Shift Sleep Aids for a Heavenly Sleep

If you enjoyed this article or have any questions, please leave them in the comment section below!


Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links, meaning we receive a commission if you decide to make a purchase through our links, but this is at no additional cost to you. Please read our disclosure and privacy statement for more info.

My top 5 essential habits to being a healthy, fulfilled night shift worker, who sits at a desk all night long! #nightshifttip #nightshift #graveyardshift #3rdshift
Do you work the night shift but from a desk? here are 5 night shifts which are practical and help you stay fit and healthy. #nightshift #Deskjob #shiftworktips #survivienightshift
Still want to maintain a healthy living standard despite working night shift with a desk job? Here are 5 night shift tips to help make it happen #nightshifttips #graveyardtip #3rdshift #deskjobhealth

Daniel Smith

Managing a global sales team I've experienced the challenges of working at all hours of the day and night. Being a shift worker I know how tough it can be balancing everyday life when you feel like you haven't slept in weeks! Providing advice and tips on how to manage your schedule, whilst still staying healthy is where I can help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts