Night Shifts and How They Affect Your Mental and Physical Health

Many people work evening and night shifts at least a few times a month. And it’s not just about those who stay up late: many work at night on a regular basis or just come from their regular jobs and start playing with a casino bonus or watching Netflix till 2 am. Let’s find out if working at night is really bad for you.

The Body Becomes Confused

Shift work schedules are bad for the body. That’s because we all have an “internal clock” – circadian rhythms. This is a set of mechanisms that builds a certain timing of biochemical processes in the body: the synthesis of hormones, the activity of the organs and nervous system and so on. When a person is forced to work some days at the time when he is used to sleeping, the body begins to get confused, the specialist explains.

On the very night of duty, it’s difficult for a person to maintain a sufficient level of attention, the performance and well-being decreases and drowsiness arises.

It’s most difficult to keep yourself awake, not to fall asleep or into a microsleep in the morning. Drivers, operators and air traffic controllers may find the state of drowsiness, not being fully engaged and microsleep particularly dangerous.

If a person works at a shift job for a long time, the body doesn’t understand what it is preparing for. Because of this, the system of processes is disrupted, and the so-called desynchronosis occurs. Chronic insomnia, metabolic disorders, hormonal disorders, and other health problems can develop.

What to Do if You Cannot Refuse to Work the Night Shift

Some professions require around-the-clock work: these are emergency specialists (doctors, firefighters), and operators of various continuous processes (air traffic controllers or hotline specialists).

There are many studies on this topic. So experts have determined how best to build a shift schedule and how to help those who have to work at night feel better.

Work the Same Shift

That is, don’t combine night and day work. Circadian rhythms in about two weeks will completely rearrange, and the person will switch to the night mode of life. The main thing is to give the body a signal that the non-working time scheduled for sleep is the day. However, it’s difficult to find volunteers to work at night all the time because all the social life goes by.

Have a Clear Schedule

If shifts need to change, it’s better to have a person work one shift or a long period (a month or two) and then shift, or vice versa, shift the schedule forward daily. That is, first he should have a morning shift, then an evening shift, and then a night shift. After them – one or two days off.

Work no More Than 12 Hours

Daily shifts impair the quality of work and the well-being of employees.

Rest During the Night Shifts 

The schedule for such work should schedule a period for sleeping or at least napping right during the shift.

4 extra tips for those who have to work at night:

  • Try to sleep or take a nap in the evening before you go out for your shift.
  • If possible, give yourself breaks: take a nap, a nap, or at least get some rest.
  • If you manage to fall asleep, you can sleep right after you return from work. In that case, it’s better to use dark glasses on your way home, so that the sunlight doesn’t give your brain a signal that the day is coming.
  • If you have difficulty falling asleep in the morning or during the day, get some rest and go to bed in the evening, after the night shift you usually manage to fall asleep early in the evening.

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