Shift workers are those who don’t follow the typical “9 to 5” business day work schedule. They usually work three or more night shifts every month. Firefighters, nurses, doctors, paramedics, police officers, and factory workers are among the 15 million shift workers in the country. Unfortunately, due to their unconventional work schedule, they are 60% more susceptible to health hazards than those who work on a regular schedule.
This is based on the study conducted by the Harvard’s School of Public Health.
Why Do Night Shift Workers Suffer More Health Risks?
Workers who work throughout the night are more prone to experiencing sleep problems. The common complaints for those who work night shifts are the following:
- Disrupted sleep schedules
- Lower performance
- Problems with personal relationships
- Depression, anxiety, and mood swings
Aside from these sleep problems, other health hazards might also arise, such as gastrointestinal problems, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. But why are night shift workers more prone to these health risks than those working on a regular schedule?
Sleep deprivation is one of the main culprits for the development of health problems. Since it is very challenging to get high quality sleep during the day, night shift workers might suffer from insomnia and other sleep disorders. In addition, the irregular work schedule also disrupts their body clock. This is the internal clock that governs sleeping, body temperature, eating, and other processes inside the body. If it is disrupted, it can lead to serious consequences, such as increased risk of cancer, diabetes, and obesity. If you are a night shift worker, you can consider the tips listed below to help you stay healthy while working through the night.
Tips For Night Shift Workers
Maintain A Schedule: You should try to be consistent by opting for steady rotations. You should try to work a steady rotation for several weeks instead of changing every week. This will help you maintain a schedule. Avoid changing your working, sleeping, and eating routine multiple times every month. Remember that the more you follow a consistent routine, the better.
Sleep Whenever Possible: Doctors and physicians recommend getting eight hours of sleep every day. If you can’t get enough sleep you can take naps during the day so that it will amount to eight hours. You can also set a sleep schedule for night-shift workers:
- You can sleep from 8:30 in the morning to 3:30 in the afternoon after your regular night shift.
- You can also sleep from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. after your last night shift before the weekend.
- Lastly, try to sleep from three in the morning to noon on your days off.
If you are worried about sleeping soundly during the day because of all the distractions, such as the sunlight and noise, you can always invest in blackout blinds. As a night shift worker, installing blackout blinds to your windows can be a huge help. This type of window treatment can keep sunlight out of your bedroom. This means it can completely darken your room, allowing you high quality, peaceful sleep even when the sun is high. In addition to blocking the sunlight, this window treatment also blocks out outdoor noise, providing you with undisturbed sleep.
Avoid Energy Drinks, Alcohol, And Caffeine: You should avoid consuming energy drinks, alcoholic beverages, or use caffeine to stay awake throughout your work schedule. Drinking caffeinated drinks will lead to poor sleep quality. In addition, too much caffeine in your system will also negatively affect your health. If you really need a caffeine kick, you need to drink plenty of water afterwards.
Follow A Consistent Eating Schedule: As mentioned earlier, night shift workers have a higher health risk because their body clock is disrupted. Once the body clock is disrupted, it will also affect the worker’s eating schedule which then leads to health problems. To this end, you should follow a consistent eating schedule. In doing so, you can make sure that you are eating enough to avoid hunger bouts and weight gain.
- Eat before you start your shift.
- Eat snacks every two or three hours during your work to stay energized and focus.
- Follow a well-balanced and nutritious diet.
- Avoid eating carbs at night
This guest post is written by Kris Hopkins. She is a registered nurse who usually works throughout the night. She once suffered from sleep deprivation, but following these tips and investing in high quality blackout blinds helped her regained a proper sleep schedule. She highly recommends investing in blackout blinds from a reputable online store like www.blackoutblinds.biz.