Night shifts are considered to be an essential part of the workflow on a regular basis. Certain businesses work all through the nighttime to bring out their work volume while meeting the demands of the market.
When you consider these employees who are working in these night shifts for long periods, you will see that most of them suffer from a plethora of health issues.
Why do they suffer from such issues and how can you prevent this from happening?
We will do our best to answer these queries and find out the effects of working on a night shift and how one can cure them.
What Goes Wrong When You Work In Night Shifts?
Humans have evolved over time and have an in-built sleep-wake cycle. They tend to remain during the daytime and sleep for 8 hours at night. The ‘circadian clock’ is a part of the brain that looks after the amount of light one can see in every moment. Therefore, in the evening, this clock notices the low light and floods the brain with melatonin, which gives the body certain signals to fall asleep. The melatonin levels remain high at night and drop during the day and remain low. Other chemicals like noradrenaline and acetylcholine increase during the day and keep you awake. This system is completely synchronized with the daily day-night cycle.
This changing rate of activity over 24 hours is known as the circadian rhythm. A person who works night shifts will be running against the circadian rhythm which then places them at risk of health problems.
The Ill-Effects Of Working In Night Shifts
1: Interferes With The Natural Sleep Rhythms
Sleep is essential for our overall health. It gets rid of our bodily toxins, reduces stress, and even repairs our injuries. Working in night shifts hampers those processes and can lead to several of the disorders on our list.
2: Increases Risk Of Cardiac Disorders
A study from 2012 in the British Medical Journal concluded that working the night shift caused a 7% increase in the likelihood that a person would suffer a heart attack. It was not addressed as to why the risk was greater for those working night shifts but it was theorized that the change in sleeping habits affected the circulation of blood and blood pressure.
3: Increases The Risk Of Depression
Working at night has a negative impact on our mental health as well. Several studies have shown that the risk of mood disorders and depression increases when we work at night.
4: Increases Risks Of Breast Cancer
Women who usually work at night have a higher chance of contracting breast cancer than those who work during the day.
5: Changes In Metabolism
Our metabolism is controlled by hormones. Leptin plays a major role in regulating our weight and insulin levels. When you work night shifts the circulation and production of this hormone are altered which can lead to other disorders.
6: Risks Of Gastrointestinal Problems
If you work night shifts for a long period of time, you will tend to suffer from gastrointestinal disorders like ulcers and diarrhea. Such things can compound your previous issues and lead to more serious conditions.
7: Deprives The Body Of Essential Vitamin D
Vitamin D is extremely important for our health. It helps in the absorption of calcium and promotes the growth of bones. Having a deficiency in Vitamin D can lead to osteomalacia along with other disorders like colon cancer, heart diseases, prostate cancer, and even depression.
How To Combat These Effects
1: Avoid Caffeine
Caffeine acts as a stimulant and provides a quick burst of energy and keeps you awake. The issue with caffeine is that it stays in your system for a long time after you feel its effects and can prevent you from sleeping even after work. Try drinking water whenever you can, to avoid the problems caused by caffeine.
2: Get Some Sunlight
When you are not busy with your work, try to spend at least 30 minutes under the sun. Walk inside your garden or go for a long walk under the sunlight. Doing this will provide the essential Vitamin D that your body so needed and will keep you healthy in the long run.