Health Problems Associated With Night Shifts
Millions of people in the world work in different shifts, wherein their work hours are not fixed. Night shifts are one such example, wherein employees are required to work at night or odd hours.
The lifestyle of employees at places that work in shifts is very different from other people. This includes sleeping during the day and working at night.
They are usually required to sleep and wake up at odd times. Due to this, their sleeping pattern is disturbed and their biological clock also gets altered. This is a problem for a person who works in night shifts, as it can lead to several health conditions.
We all have our own special reasons for working night shifts, but this time there lies a hidden risk that might get you on the wrong side of the health authorities.
Well, there are many health problems which may arise due to working night shifts. Firstly, the body's internal clock gets disturbed which is not good for the overall health of an individual. Your body needs to be fit and fine in order to work efficiently and effectively. Working such hours, in a way, disrupts this by affecting the sleep pattern of an individual.
Sleeping at abnormal hours can also cause a lack of energy and fatigue making it difficult to concentrate on work. This causes an employee to feel irritated and leads to stress.
The disruption of circadian rhythm leading to a disturbed sleep pattern, when not taken care of could lead to various health-related problems.
The most common problem is obesity. The reason being, if you eat just before you start working and then sleep after working for 7-8 hours, there is no time for your body to process the food. This may lead to an increase in fat deposition.
The next problem is that of depression. This problem may arise either due to social isolation or due to the inability to maintain a regular sleeping pattern. Depression can also be caused due to an increased stress level.
The most common reason for depression may be a social one; if you don't interact with others at work or at home, there will be a decrease in your social support system that can also lead to depression.
How to Stay Fit While Working Night Shifts?
Work-life balance is something that is needed by everybody. It may not matter if you are a student or a full-time employee, it matters for all of us.
The concept of work-life balance itself is very simple. It doesn’t mean that you should spend equal time on everything. Sometimes you may have to work on something that is more important than others. What it means is that your health, family and social life should be taken care of equally.
Everything should be balanced, and here we are talking about working habits, not eating habits. While working night shifts, you may have to sleep at odd hours. This disrupts your sleeping cycle.
Your body gets confused and it makes your sleeping schedule very erratic and this can cause sleep deprivation problems which are extremely harmful to your health.
Working in night shifts can be challenging, especially for your health. With the days getting shorter and colder, many of us are faced with the challenge of adjusting our sleep patterns to fit our work timings.
While it might not be possible to change your working hours, there are many things you can do to ensure you stay healthy and fit while working at night. Here are 6 ways to stay fit if you work in night shifts:
- Stay Hydrated
Raising your metabolic rate at night can be challenging, but eating the right kinds of food to keep yourself satiated without ruining your health is important. Drinking water is the best thing to do. At night, you don't realize you're getting dehydrated because you don't feel thirsty as such, but your body requires more water than usual. Although it is also important to drink water throughout the day, at night it's even more important.
- Keep A Check on Your Diet
While it is important to have a sufficient amount of nutrients in your diet, it is equally important not to overdo it. As these shifts stretch out for hours, there is a possibility you might indulge in late-night snacks and junk, which can increase the risk of developing diabetes or hypertension (high blood pressure). If you need some quick fuel to keep going, make sure it is nutrient-rich food like fruits or nuts.
- Nap Effectively
Most people who do shift work lose their natural biorhythm. It's hard for them to fall asleep during the day. This causes fatigue, which results in a lack of productivity at work.
We start shifting towards a more stable routine with our sleep patterns, ever so gradually. We move from sleeping in late mornings to sleeping by 7 am, and the cycle only becomes more refined as months go by. Although it might seem tempting to occasionally join your family and friends for lunch to keep up with your social and family life, you need to prioritise your sleep so as to avoid sleep disorders.
- Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
The biggest problem for most night shift workers is getting enough sleep. When you work the night shift it means you have to go to sleep during the day, which is when most people tend to be awake and active, which makes it difficult for you to get good quality sleep. It is also important to eat balanced meals, so don't starve yourself.
Using blackout curtains, wearing an eye mask, running a white noise machine or app and avoiding the use of electronic devices before bed can help ensure you get a noise-free and peaceful sleep. Good sleep hygiene can actually induce better performance at work and prevent health ailments associated with night shifts.
- Find Ways to Kill Boredom
The problem arises when you work long periods, especially if you're sitting down all the time, with no breaks, no change of scenery, it's a very monotonous and boring existence. What you need to do is find a way of breaking that boredom.
Apart from finding ways to kill boredom, you also need to limit your stress so that it does not affect your mental health.
You must get enough exercise to maintain your health while working night shifts. A well-planned exercise routine must include cardio, strength and flexibility training. These will help you boost your cognitive functioning and keep your health at par without making you feel lazy or sleepy.
Night shifts can be fun and exciting but being awake at night for few months and then returning back to day-time shifts can take a toll on your physical, mental and emotional health. However, there are few things you can do to stay fit and healthy during night shifts.
If you are doing night shifts, you need to know how to sleep better so that you are able to take care of your health. It is not easy to stay awake when you are working at night and it is even more difficult to sleep during the day when others are awake. It also becomes difficult to find time to exercise during the day.