4 Serious Health Risks of Shift Work and Incredibly Easy Ways to Avoid Them



Doctors duty in the hospitals

Although having a regular, 9 to 5, working hours is somehow still considered the most appropriate, there are more and more people every year who work in shifts. When you say ‘working in shifts’ the most common meaning is working night shifts. However, it has to be noted that the phrase actually refers to any type of working hours outside a steady 9 to 5 schedule.

But, working night shifts definitely attracts attention since it becomes more and more represented nowadays. Some of the professions where working in shifts is a regular notion are medical workers, call centre agents, emergency patrol teams, etc. So, the number of people who are working like this is enormous but what about the consequences?

Despite the fact that some people feel more productive in the evening than in the morning or in the afternoon, humans are supposed to sleep during the night according to basic biology. It means when you work at night instead of getting the necessary rest and sleep, you are tricking your body and its functions.

Unfortunately, there are many both short-term and long-term health hazards of working in this way. Having in mind that some people work in shifts just because they love their profession too much and many others work in this way because of financial reasons only, further in the article you will find all the necessary info about the most common health risks and tips for avoiding them. So, keep reading!

Health risks

Many pieces of research have been done on this topic worldwide, and all of them mention the following diseases and health issues.

Cardiovascular Diseases

The scientists all over the world have found the connection between shift work and the increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The numbers are serious, showing that people who work in shifts are 25% more likely to suffer from these illnesses, and the number is even bigger if we take into consideration working night shifts only.

Diabetes

The link between working night shifts and a higher risk of diabetes has also been found according to some research. This is because irregular sleeping can cause many disorders in your body and it can lead to health problems such as high blood sugar and high blood pressure, as well as increased cholesterol levels. These ‘smaller issues’ are all more or less connected with diabetes.

Obesity

Yes, obesity can be connected with working night shifts on various levels. One of the reasons is definitely lack of exercise and poor diet. This happens because when you work during the night, you have to eat something, just like during the regular shift. However, instead of eating food which is rich in nutrients, people tend to eat unhealthy food just because it is simple to order in or it’s less complicated to make a sandwich.

Furthermore, after working night shifts, people spend a good part of the day sleeping and when they finally get up, they usually feel tired and exhausted. Working out is the last thing that comes to their mind. This happens because your body behaves and is forced to work unnaturally. Instead of sleeping at night, when the body needs to rest and regenerate, it is forced to work.

The combination of these two mentioned factors usually leads to the notion that people who work night shifts tend to feel hungry throughout the day and eat more than they actually need.

Depression

Man working at laptop in stress

Photo courtesy of Freepik Images by katemangostar

There are some studies which show that shift workers are more likely to suffer from symptoms of depression. It is explained that this happens due to the social isolation of working night shifts and the fact that working at night affects brain chemistry directly.

Tips for Staying Healthy while Working in Shifts

The medical conditions mentioned above are severe, and their link to the shift work should be taken very seriously. Luckily, there are some easy tips you can implement in order to prevent these illnesses from happening.

  • Eat your meals always at the same time throughout the day. In this way, you are maintaining your body clock.
  • Eat food rich in proteins. If you really crave for something sweet, try to wait until the end of the shift and take a sweet bite then.
  • Avoid drinking coffee, green tea and other drinks which contain caffeine. During your working hours, it’s better to drink water or fresh orange juice.
  • Never drink alcoholic beverages before you go to bed. Instead of that drink a glass of warm milk, which will help you sleep tight.
  • When you come home after work, do not go to bed straight away. Take half an hour to hour to relax and calm your mind. You can enjoy a long bath or just listen to some good music, whatever suits you best!
  • Make sure the temperature in your bedroom is a bit cooler than usual. You will have a better sleep in a slightly colder room.
  • Finally, try to workout every day when you get up at least for 15 minutes. If you are not a morning person, then do some stretching and exercise during the day.

As you can see, the medical conditions are pretty serious, but the steps for preventing them are extremely easy. Those can be implemented in your daily routine very easily. Of course, you do not have to do all these steps right away, but try to adopt these habits in one month period. You will be surprised with your energy level, despite working night hours.

However, it is always a good thing to be prepared and know how to react quickly in situations when a colleague suddenly does not feel very well. Here, you have a partner in crime! Alsco can help you! First Aid Kit and resources are something every company and every office needs.

Call Alsco now, and their friendly representatives will help you get the best offer!

Photo courtesy of Freepik Images by javi_indy



Disclaimer – These articles are provided to supply general health, safety, and green information to people responsible for the same in their organisation. The articles are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs.