According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 15 million Americans are working night shift and many will tell of the toll of working these late night hours has done to their sleep schedules and the stress it has put their body through. But getting a good night's sleep is not the only issue at risk when it comes to a shift worker's health, especially among women who are working a rotating night shift.
Research done by the World Health Organization has acknowledged the increased risks to this group due to disruptions in the circadian rhythm of the brain during the sleep cycle. They state that these risks, which can lead to decreased heart and brain functions, poor cardio-vascular system health and the body's ability to prevent tumors, should be classified as a potential carcinogen to the body.
Not only does working the night shift affect the traditional jobs it is usually associated with, but has grown to be accepted as lowering work performance in other areas as well. Many people work these late shifts because there is a need for the job to be operated on a 24-hour schedule with someone often required to be on the location in a supervisory role. Another reason is that this may be the only time this work can be performed such as is the case for road construction crews. This type of job can potentially affects many people from:
But there are some positions that are often overlooked such as:
Although there is often no way for some to avoid working the night shift, there are ways to limit it's detrimental side effects. The easiest things to do are some of the most effective, get enough sleep, watch your diet and get plenty of exercise. By following a regimen your body will adjust it's rhythm to fit the schedule you may be required to work
Dr. Pushpa Chandra is a Vancouver-based Naturopathic Physician. She worked for over 27 years as a registered nurse and 22 years at BC's Children's Hospital, working in critical care with the province's sickest children. Her interests include research in circadian rhythm disruption, sports medicine and pediatrics. A competitive sports enthusiast, she has completed ultramarathons and marathons in all 7 continents. As a shift worker she has been using the ingredients of AWAKE and ASLEEP to boost her performance, endurance and overall health.
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