Shift Work

Have you heard of shift work disorder? It’s what many people who work shifts suffer from, and it can significantly affect your health, safety, and job performance – not to mention your mental well being.

Whether you already work shifts or are considering doing so, read on to find out what shift work can do to your health and mental state.

Shift work on your physical health

Shift work has been linked to several illnesses and chronic conditions. In fact, long-term shift work has even been linked to an increased risk of some cancers, heart disease, ulcers, and obesity.

Insufficient sleep changes your metabolism and appetite, with shift workers often having higher levels of triglycerides compared to day workers, according to studies. Added to this, shift workers often have irregular eating habits and a poor diet, both of which increase their likelihood of metabolic problems.

Shift work on your mental state

Besides the physical effects of shift work, you also risk mental health problems like depression. That’s because of the disruption to your circadian system – the system that regulates the release of a whole lot of different chemicals in your body. What’s more, shift work causes social problems, decreasing your overall happiness and well being.  If you work odd hours, you might start to feel like you’re just out of step with your friends and family.

Shift work on your sleep

Sleep is important for your health. It’s during sleep that the body gets rid of toxins, reduces stress, and repairs injuries. Working shifts interferes with those processes.

Shift work and the risk of heart attack

According to studies, working shifts can cause an increase in your chances of suffering a heart attack. It’s thought that the change to your sleep habits affects both your circulation and blood pressure.

Shift work and depression

Working shits also has a negative impact on your mental state. It’s been shown that the risk of depression along with mood disorders increase when doing shift work.

Shift work and increased weight

Your metabolism is governed, mostly, by hormones. For example, leptin plays an important role in regulating your blood sugar, weight, and insulin. Working shifts interferes with the circulation and production of this hormone, which can lead to an increased risk of diabetes, obesity, and gastrointestinal problems.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Some of us have no choice but to work shifts, so it’s important that you learn how to combat the negative effects of shift work.

Here are a few suggestions:
  1. Make a slow transition
Slowly transition from day to night shift. Try to give your body time to adjust to its new schedule.
  1. Family support
It’s important that your family helps you adapt to your shift work. As a family, you should work together to balance essential activities like maintaining schedules, family time, shopping, paying bills, and chores.
  1. Caffeine reduction
Caffeine, as you well know, is a stimulant we often turn to for a quick energy boost. But caffeine stays in the system for hours after that boost, and it can play havoc with your sleep. So, if you must drink caffeine, try to avoid the problems it causes by drinking plenty of water and flushing it out of your system.
  1. More sunshine
Whenever you’re not working, try to spend about half an hour in the sun. Whether it’s pottering around the garden, going for a walk, or enjoying an outdoor workout, you’ll give your body the vitamin D boost it needs to keep you healthy and encourage hormone regulation.
  1. Regular sleep
Sleeping in the right environment can have exceptional effects on how long and how well you sleep. Try to keep your room cool, dark, and quiet. Turn your electronics off two hours before bedtime and even wear earplugs and a sleep mask if you need to.

Have a positive attitude with shift work

Shift work can play havoc with your weight and mental state, but with the above tips, you can help negate its effects. Also, aim to eat small, healthy meals regularly to encourage a healthy metabolism and get those workouts in when you can.

Making sure to switch to shift work carefully and with the right know-how can have a positive effect on your overall health.

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