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Working the Graveyard Shift

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15 Million and Counting

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics about 15 million Americans work a permanent night shift. Most workers experience restlessness, sleepiness on the job, fatigue, decreased attention and disruption of the body’s natural metabolic process. Today physicians and psychologist have gained an understanding of exactly how night work affect cognitive performance and which tactics could help keep workers safe.

Evidence clearly shows that sleep directly affects the body physically and psychologically. Lack of proper sleep has been proven to lead to health issues with:

  • Performance
  • Safety
  • Alertness
  • Memory
  • Cognitive Activity
  • Depression
  • Injuries

Complications with personal issues are common to arise as well:

  • Lack of Communication 
  • Social Distance
  • Family/Relationship Issues
  • Stress 

To combat these common effects research suggest midnight workers to:

  • Sleep
    • Make a sleep schedule that works and stick to it. Covering the windows to reduce the light level in your bedroom during the day. Maintaining your bedroom temperature at cool conditions to help you get to sleep and stay asleep. Reducing as many outside noises and unwinding by reading or watching TV before bedtime.
  • Eating
    • Avoid eating large amounts of refined sugar, like junk foods which can deliver an instant boost of energy, but can also lead to extreme mood swings and a crash later on in a shift. On the other hand fruit's provides a nice boost of energy with no harmful effects on the body. By drinking fruit juice and water you can reduce the chances of fatigue and headaches caused by dehydration.
  • Relationships
    • It is important to get friends and family on the same page to establish a sleep schedule that allows your day and night time to function. When face-to-face interaction is not possible try to communicate via phone calls, text or notes at home to keep connected. Planning activity with other for the end of a regular work week gives something to look forward to.
  • Health
    • Working the night shift can have aggressive effects on the body and if not monitored it would be simple for an individual to become ill. The National Science Foundation reports that night shift workers face a higher risk of experiencing insomnia, daytime sleepiness, high blood pressure, diabetes, menstrual irregularities, and weight gain versus day shift employees. It is important to attempt to get a regular check up.
  • Exercise
    • A simple 30 to 45 minutes work out prior to your shift will boost your metabolism, and keep you more alert for a while. The key is to not burn yourself out before work. It is not recommended to exercise after work since it is tough and it will also make your sleep schedule harder to keep. Most of all just staying active will help you think health which leads to healthier choices.
  • Sunglasses
    • Research has show that once you subject your eyes to the bright morning light, this does something to you body that says “wake up”. So wearing dark sunglasses as you leave your place of employment and on the trip home keeps your body convinced that it is still night, which will make it easier to sleep when you get home. 
  • Disconnecting
    • It is strongly suggested to give you phone a break, by not feeling like you have to be available to the phone reduces a weight on yourself that allows you to relax easier. Disconnecting while asleep will also prevent interruptions.

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