Probiotics: Why They Matter For Night Shift Workers

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The demanding world we currently find ourselves in is asking for more individuals to work the night shift. It’s great for the consumers of goods, however, workers are experiencing more and more health issues due to working an irregular roster. One of the main health issues encountered on night shift relates to one’s gut. There are a number of ways that you can combat digestive issues while working the night shift, with this article focused on the use of probiotics. 

Probiotics are living microorganisms found in the gut that help regulates the immune system, strengthen the digestive system, and improve an individual’s overall health. As night workers strain the body clock, probiotics aid in regulating gut health and digestive issues, commonly seen when working an irregular roster.

So, if you’re starting to work the night shift, or even a veteran night shifter and struggling to feel right – read along to see how consuming probiotics could be the fix you’re looking for! 

What are Probiotics?

When looking into probiotics, you’ll see two words over and over again – live microorganisms. That’s because that’s exactly what probiotics are, they’re a form of living microorganisms. Basically, it’s a type of bacteria.

Let’s be real, when you hear the word bacteria you associate it with a negative connotation. However, there are types of bacteria out there that are considered to be good for you and probiotics fall under that category.  The International Scientific Association of Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) states that “the concept of probiotics has been around for over 100 years, but scientists are just starting to understand their role in maintaining health, regulating the immune system, and managing disease” (Align Probiotic, 2022).

When an individual consumes probiotics in an amount that is considered healthy, they reap positive health benefits.

If you’re having issues with your immune system or digestive system, consider investing in probiotics. They have been proven to combat cells that cause different diseases and to enable proper food digestion.

If you’re looking into getting started on probiotics, they can be consumed in a couple of different ways. Some individuals take probiotic supplements to get their daily dose, however, others find it in particular foods such as yogurt, cheese, and buttermilk.

Of course, these are not the only options, so if they don’t fit your needs don’t get discouraged. Also, when starting probiotics, don’t confuse them with prebiotics. 

Probiotics Vs. Prebiotics

Probiotics and prebiotics are not the same. I repeat, probiotics and prebiotics are not the same!

While they do work hand in hand to promote a healthier and happier life, there is a distinct difference.  Remember that probiotics are the live microorganisms that promote positive health benefits, we’ve just finished talking about them. Now, prebiotics is what your probiotics feed off of. 

Think of it this way, when you eat unhealthy foods where excessive sugar is present, you are allowing unhealthy bacteria to be fed. If you’re constantly doing this, that unhealthy bacteria is going to multiply and cause your gut more problems than it’s worth. That’s where prebiotics come into play!

Taking prebiotics allows the probiotics to be fed regularly, which multiply them and they can actively combat the negative bacteria in your digestive system.

Taking both Probiotics and Prebiotics is the best way to stabilize your gut health.

Like probiotics, prebiotics can be consumed via supplements or foods. Foods you can consume to get prebiotics into your system include onions, bananas, tomatoes, and much more!

When should you take probiotics and prebiotics? Watch this great video.

Benefits of Probiotics

As I’ve said multiple times in this article, there are an array of benefits that come from taking probiotics, with scientists discovering new benefits as the years’ progress.

Let’s look into some of the benefits that Probiotics have been proven to have.

Digestive Health

This one is considered to be the main benefit – it promotes positive digestive health.

The CDC provides us with some pretty astonishing statistics saying that, the “number of visits to physician offices with diseases of the digestive system as the primary diagnosis: 37.2 million” (CDC, 2022). That is one large number!

Probiotics are hard at work to bring that number down. They help fight off the unhealthy bacteria that festers unhealthily and live in the gut. Probiotics also play a major role in food digestion, which is a common issue for those working nights or with an irregular schedule! 

Related post: What Causes Night Shift Nausea and How to Finally Beat It

Boost Immunity

Some have been blessed with really amazing immune systems, whilst others have a natural diet that helps fit away gremlins.

The good bacteria located in the gut have a mutually positive relationship with your immune system, strengthening it. “Humans and microorganisms have been interdependent for billions of years. The human immune system has evolved with microorganisms, adopting a commensal (beneficial) relationship with microbiota” (Full Script, 2021).  

Lowers Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can be extremely dangerous in severe cases. A really great benefit of probiotics is that they have been proven to lower your systolic and diastolic blood pressure numbers.

High blood pressure can cause a ton of other issues, so doing what you can to keep it in a normal range is essential. The Mayo Clinic explains that high blood pressure (hypertension) can sneak up on you, damaging the body for years before symptoms develop. When uncontrolled high blood pressure finally shows its ugly head it can lead to disability, a poor quality of life, or even a deadly heart attack or stroke” (Mayo Clinic, 2022).  

Side Effects of Probiotics

While there are many health benefits of probiotics, there are some side effects that you may have to deal with in order to get your gut under control.

The main side effects are gas, bloating, and headaches. If your immune system is compromised, you will want to consult a doctor before ingesting probiotics on your own accord. (source)

Gas and Bloating

Gas and bloating are arguably some of the most uncomfortable side effects of taking probiotics. However, they are a small price to pay for a healthier gut.

You may be thinking, how are probiotics helping my gut if it’s causing me gas and bloating? Research posted by Livestrong states, “Probiotics in the form of a supplement or from food target harmful microorganisms in the lower part of your GI tract, causing them to die. The removal of this toxic waste and toxins creates gas. Increased gas may make your stomach feel like a balloon” (Livestrong 2020).

So, there’s a high chance you’ll be a tad uncomfortable for a period of time until your gut finds some stability. (source)


Unfortunately, headaches seem to be a side effect of many supplements and medications, with probiotics not immune either. (source)

Best Probiotics Info states, “While probiotic supplements don’t trigger headaches, some probiotic-rich foods may cause mild symptoms. The adverse symptoms are likely due to amines, which are substances that are created when protein-rich foods age or undergo fermentation (Best Probiotics Info, 2022).

Because amines impact your central nervous systems, headaches can occur.

Types of Probiotics


WebMD defines Bifidobacteria as “probiotics (good bacteria) that live in the intestines” (WebMD, 2022). This type of bacteria is typically used as active ingredients in foods to increase their health benefits. They have been determined to assist with pain caused by IBS!


WebMd defines Lactobacillus as “Probiotics (“good bacteria”) normally found in the human digestive and urinary tracts. They can be consumed for diarrhea and gut health” (WebMD, 2022). Like Biofidobacteria, Lactobacillus is also added into certain foods in order to increase their health benefits.(source)

Gut Health & Night Shift

So, what does this have to do with you specifically as a night shift worker? A LOT!

As night shift workers, we are actively going against our bodies’ normalcy. Our body operates via an internal clock, meaning, your body has a specific time in which certain organs operate.

When you work the night shift, you have to change the time that you eat, drink, and even use the restroom. Your body doesn’t really appreciate these changes. It starts turning against you, creating a number of complexities, of which digestive problems are seen as a common occurrence. 

Your body isn’t used to digesting food during the times that you are choosing to eat now that you’re on night shift. So, it decides to function differently.

“No one knew that the biological clocks in people’s digestive organs are so profoundly and quickly changed by shift work schedules, even though the brain’s master clock barely adapts to such schedules,” Van Dongen says.

As a result, some biological signals in shift workers’ bodies are saying it’s day while other signals are saying it’s night, which causes disruption of metabolism” (NIH, 2018). This is where the probiotics come into play, they assist your body in your digestion, which is why they are extremely important when it comes to those that work the night shift

We also see night shift workers regularly stating they get feelings of being bloated whilst working nights, so with probiotics causing similar symptoms when first digested, it would pay to consult your general practitioner about when would be the right time to start consuming them.

VIDEO – Are Night Shifts Bad For You? Stop Them Ruining Your Health

Hopefully, you’ve taken away some new knowledge about the health benefits that probiotic-heavy foods and supplements can have.

As a night shift worker, you’re going to have to overcome many obstacles, mainly health related. Working during the night, while it can be great, comes with an added risk on your health. Which is why it’s so important to get on the front foot and look after your body and mind.

Also keep in mind that probiotics are not for everyone, so as we always suggest, should you be considering using these as supplements, consult the relevant medical advice.


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.

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Emma @ The Other Shift

Hey there! I'm Emma Smith a passionate, Registered Nurse from Australia. Together with my husband Daniel, we run The Other Shift. Our sole aim is to help shift workers and those on unusual schedules find balance between work and life. I understand the challenges of fitting in exercise, maintaining relationships and getting enough quality sleep, but I'm excited to show you that it’s possible to do shift work and still thrive. Read more about us and our story here.

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