Shift workers do some of the most important jobs; however, the irregular working hours can be damaging to their health.
The adverse health risks associated with shift work are well known. Everyone who works outside the traditional 9-5 working hours, including doctors, police officers, truck drivers, and nurses are exposed to these risks. Shift workers do some of the most important jobs; however, the irregular working hours damages their health and efficiency. (Read- Sleep Disorders and Workplace Injuries)
Disrupted Circadian Rhythm
The primary cause of health issues associated with shift work is the disruption of the circadian rhythm, the internal clock that send signals to various parts of the body and affects the release of hormones, digestion, and body temperature. The circadian rhythm tells the body when to stay alert and when to sleep.
The circadian rhythm is disrupted when a person works at night instead of sleeping. When a shift worker is at work, the internal clock tells them to rest, even though they must stay alert. When the shift worker tries to sleep during the day, circadian rhythm communicates to the body to be alert. This makes it difficult to get sufficient sleep, leading to chronic sleepiness and fatigue.
Shift Work Disorder
Shift work disorder causes sleepiness when a worker needs to be alert and insomnia when a worker needs to sleep. Even if the worker manages to fall asleep, he or she will wake up tired and fatigued. This eventually leads to health problems such as lack of energy, difficulty with personal relationships, difficulty concentrating, and increased irritability.
These side effects can have a severe impact on the worker’s life and ability to work. Shift workers such as police officers, doctors, nurses, and truck drivers that require quick decision making and prolonged concentration become probe to workplace accidents, which can affect more than just the sleep deprived worker. Shift workers are prone to other serious health problems as well. A study published in the journal Hypertension revealed that circadian misalignment and sleep restriction in healthy young adults increased their risk of developing cardiovascular illnesses.
Avoid Adverse Effects of Shift Work
There is no single remedy to avoid the negative health effects associated with shift work. As long as a worker’s schedule remains unpredictable, the circadian rhythm will also remain unpredictable. However, there are certain things that a worker can do to get a restful night’s sleep.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests that the worker should set aside a sufficient amount of time to sleep in a quiet, dark, and cool place once the shift is over. The worker should also avoid heavy foods, caffeine, and alcohol a few hours before they go to sleep in order to eliminate stimulants that can make it difficult for them to fall sleep. The CDC also recommends that workers should have a consistent exercise routine to manage stress and promote a healthy lifestyle. These simple actions can help make it easier to cope up with the adverse demands of shift work and help prevent health problems.
St. Louis Worker Compensation Attorney
If you have developed health problems because of the adverse effects of shift work, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Speak to a St. Louis worker compensation attorney to know your rights. Call The Law Office of James M. Hoffmann at (314) 361-4300 for a free consultation.