Shift work can impair memory, lower your mood, and affect your weight. A healthy lifestyle prevents the disadvantages of shift work.
1. What are shift work health risks?
The health risks of shift work are the same as those of sleep deprivation.
Every person has experience with a bad night’s sleep. After that, you will be tired and mistakes will happen.
After night shifts, sleep is shorter and shift workers do not sleep more than usual during so-called normal nights. Sleep deprivation accumulates and, over a long run, is reflected in memory, concentration, mood and physical health.
Traditional lifestyle risk factors have a significantly greater impact on the development of diseases than just shift work. These risk factors include physical inactivity, alcohol usage, overweight and smoking.
2. How to protect the brains from the disadvantages of shift work?
The brain recovers from stress in deep sleep. Deep sleep is most common during the first hours of sleep. Sleep progresses gradually from lighter sleep to deep sleep. Awakenings reduce the amount of refreshing deep sleep.
The average adult sleep requirement is seven to eight hours a day, and shift workers should sleep
at least four to five hours of uninterrupted sleep, even with difficult shifts. In order to succeed, the person must make the conditions conducive to sleeping. Ear plugs, turning off the doorbell and blackout curtains will help.
3. How does shift work change metabolism?
Already a few nights shorter than usual will change your metabolism towards insulin resistance. These are similar changes in sugar metabolism as in pre-diabetes. This is why shift work has been associated with an increased risk of diabetes and overweight.
It is important for all adults to maintain a normal weight, but it is especially important for shift workers. If you have a family history of diabetes, shift workers should pay particular attention to lifestyle, that is, eating healthy and exercising regularly.
4. How to reduce the disadvantages of shift work?
The disadvantages of shift work are reduced by ergonomic shift planning. Fast forward-moving shift planning has proven to be the best. It runs in the order of morning, evening, night and off days. There should be no more than two or three consecutive night shifts.
In practice, 11 hours is the minimum time for an employee to be able to move from work to home and to be prepared for sleep and to have enough time between shifts.
5. Is it a good idea to go straight to bed from a night shift?
When a person comes home from a night shift, it is a good idea to repeat the same routine as before going to bed at night. Immediately after, you should go to bed. Most often, a person is tired when he or she returns from a night shift. Go to bed as soon as you get home from night shift. When tired, most people fall asleep quickly.
6. How should I eat during shift work?
A shift worker should maintain a regular meal schedule. Eating consistently every three to four hours helps to keep on going.
A regular meal rhythm prevents digestive problems such as constipation and flatulence during shift work. They come because the intestines do not always know whether it is day or night.
As with others, for shift workers, it is a good idea to have a light meal in the evening and the main meal of the day during the day.
7. What helps to stay awake at night shift?
Several small snack-type meals are better at night than one large meal. Caffeine in coffee refreshes, but you should drink it and other caffeine-containing drinks only when you need them. Drinking them several times a day does not affect your alertness.
You should not drink coffee a few hours before the end of the night shift, or it may be difficult to fall asleep later.
8. How can I take care of my recovery during my shift?
If possible, you should take breaks from work. Night shifts can be tricky as there are often only few workers.
If your work is sedentary work, you may want to get up from your chair to exercise. If the work is mobile, you can sit down and raise your feet.
If your job is self-contained and lonely, you probably want to spend your break with people. And if the work is full of people-to-people contacts, the employee may want to take a break on their own.
The so-called micro-break communicates rest to the brain. They are small pauses of a few seconds to a few minutes, during which thoughts are released from work. Lifting your gaze out of the window, stopping to breathe deeply, getting up from your chair and rotating your shoulders and various transitions from place to place are micro breaks.
9. How does a shift worker take care of their relationships?
It is true that shift workers have more difficulty reconciling work and other life than day workers. On the other hand, if a shift worker is able to influence his or her own shifts, he or she will have more flexibility in his or her life.
It is easier to reconcile work and life if the shift worker is allowed to influence his or her shifts. For the sake of well-being at work, it would be good for the employee to have, if he or she so wishes, a certain evening a week off for hobbies.
Everyone benefits from allowing the employee to influence his or her working hours. Studies have shown that people who are able to influence their working hours tend to continue working beyond retirement age.
10. Is heavy exercise too much for a shift worker?
The shift worker should focus on sports activities during his off days. Excessive exercise combined with strenuous work can cause overload. Symptoms include reduced performance and unwillingness to engage in work or hobbies. Symptoms develop gradually and may go unnoticed.
Exercise is a good way to recover from work. If you are comfortable with jogging at 8 pm, you may want to go for a jog. People are different in this regard.