The journal, Nutrients, recently carried the results of a study on the effect of a snack, a meal or absence of food on nightshift employees, who are expected to be alert and productive while the rest of the world is asleep.
Since working in shifts takes a toll on the employees by tampering with their body clock, not only their productivity but also their safety and health becomes a big concern for their employers.
The study examined the effect of three different types of food— consumed at midnight— on shift workers— (i) a meal, comprising an apple, a sandwich and a muesli bar, consisting of 30 per cent of energy intake over a period of 24 hours (ii) a snack consisting of 10 per cent energy intake, such as a muesli bar and apple and (iii) no food at all.
The study had 44 participants, who then reported their hunger levels, gut reaction, and sleep levels.
It was discovered that while each of the participants felt more sleepy, tired, and weak across the night shift, consuming a snack had a positive effect. In fact, a snack proved to be the best cure for sleepiness, fatigue and energy loss, as compared to a meal or no food at all.
A snack manages to quell hunger pangs and at the same time does not make the night shift workers uncomfortably full. This, in turn, helps them stay alert and perform better throughout the night shift.