With technology allowing us to work from anywhere and the 24/7 work culture that has taken hold, it’s no wonder many people are choosing to work a night shift.
But is working a night shift safe?
Several health risks come with working a night shift; some people even develop night shift disorder (NSD). Let’s examine some risks and see if working a night shift is safe for you.
Are you tired after a long day/night of work? Do you feel like you’re always tired? Are you struggling to get to sleep?
You might be experiencing night shift disorder (NSD) if you answered yes to these questions.
What is Shift Work Disorder?
Shift work sleep disorder (SWSD) is a circadian rhythm sleep disorder that affects people who work nontraditional hours. It can cause excessive sleepiness and fatigue, leading to work mistakes. A recent study found that people with SWSD are at an increased risk for heart disease. The study also found that people with SWSD are more likely to have a stroke or develop diabetes.
The symptoms of SWD can include difficulty falling asleep when needed, waking up frequently, feeling unrefreshed after sleep, and feeling very sleepy during the day.
SWD can significantly impact your quality of life and lead to safety concerns if you work in a job requiring you to be alert and focused. Various factors can contribute to the development of SWD, including the type of work you do, the hours you work, and your natural sleep patterns.
You may be more likely to develop SWD if you work shifts that rotate or change frequently. People who work night shifts or extended hours are also at increased risk.
If you think you may have SWD, talk to your doctor. They can help you determine whether you have the disorder and develop a treatment plan.
The Circadian Rhythm: What is It and How Does It Work?
Your body has an internal clock that’s set to about 24 hours. This clock called the circadian rhythm, helps regulate when you feel awake and sleepy.
A small brain region controls the circadian rhythm called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). The SCN is located just above the point where the optic nerves cross. This area of the brain receives signals about the amount of light present from the eyes.
The SCN sends signals to the rest of the brain and the body that help regulate the sleep-wake cycle. For example, the SCN signals the pineal gland to release the hormone melatonin when it’s time to sleep.
The circadian rhythm can be affected by several things, including:
Age: The circadian rhythm changes as we get older. Older adults wake up earlier and go to bed earlier than younger adults.
Light exposure: The circadian rhythm is sensitive to light. Exposure to light in the evening can delay the onset of sleep. Exposure to light in the morning can help to advance the sleep-wake cycle.
Travel: Travel’s circadian rhythm can be affected, particularly when crossing time zones. This is why jet lag can occur.
Shift work: Working shifts outside the usual sleep-wake cycle can disrupt the circadian rhythm.
The circadian rhythm is an important part of sleep. A healthy sleep-wake cycle can help to promote overall health and well-being.
How Common Is Shift Work Disorder, and Who is Affected?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, shift work disorder (SWD) is “a circadian rhythm sleep disorder characterized by insomnia and excessive daytime sleepiness due to an inability to adjust to night work or rotating shifts.”
SWD affects around 1.5% of the workforce in the United States, and women are more likely than men to suffer from it. SWD can also lead to health problems such as obesity, heart disease, and depression.
Causes of Shift Work Disorder
Shift work disorder is a condition that can be caused by working shifts that are out of the normal daytime hours. The disorder can cause sleep problems, fatigue, and other symptoms.
There are many different types of shift work, and not all are associated with shift work disorder. However, some of the most common types of shift work that can lead to the disorder include:
- Working night shifts
- Working early morning shifts
- Working rotating shifts
- Working long shifts
Each shift can have different effects on the body and lead to different symptoms of shift work disorder.
Night shifts are often difficult to adjust, as they go against the body’s natural circadian rhythm. This can lead to difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep during the day.
Early morning shifts can also be difficult, as the body is typically not used to being awake and productive. This can lead to fatigue and sleepiness during the shift.
Rotating shifts can be tough on the body, as adjusting to different sleep and wake times regularly can be difficult. This can lead to fatigue, sleep problems, and other symptoms.
Long shifts can also be difficult to adjust to, as they can lead to fatigue and sleepiness. In some cases, long shifts can also lead to dehydration, as people may not take the time to drink enough fluids during their shifts.
Symptoms of Shift Work Disorder
It’s no secret that working the night shift can be tough on your body and your mind. But for some people, the effects of shift work can be much more serious. Several factors can contribute to shifting work disorder. One is the body’s natural circadian rhythm, the 24-hour cycle that regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
When you work night shifts, you’re working against your body’s natural rhythm, which can lead to fatigue and insomnia.
Another factor is the type of work you’re doing. If your work is physical or requires a lot of mental concentration, it can be more difficult to adjust to working odd hours.
Stress can also play a role in shift work disorder. If you’re working long hours or have a lot of responsibility at work, it can be hard to cope with the demands of your job.
Treatments for Shift Work Disorder
Making simple changes to your lifestyle can often help relieve symptoms of shift work disorder. Getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals, and exercising regularly can help you feel more rested and less tired.
If you’re having trouble adjusting to shifting work, several resources are available to help you. The National Sleep Foundation lists tips for managing shift work disorder.
Coping With Shift Work Disorder
A mismatch between your internal body clock and the demands of your job causes SWD. Your body clock, also known as your circadian rhythm, is the biological process that tells your body when to sleep, wake up, and eat.
Most people have a body clock set to the day-night cycle, with a period of wakefulness during the day and sleepiness at night. But for people who work shifts, the body clock can become out of sync with the demands of their job.
This can lead to several symptoms, including:
- Difficulty falling asleep during the day
- Waking up frequently during the night
- Feeling tired and sleepy during the day
- Difficulty concentrating and making mistakes
- Irritability and moodiness
18 Ways to Better Manage Shift Work Disorder
Get as Much Natural Light as Possible During the Day
If you work the night shift, you know how difficult it can be to get enough natural light during the day. Spending time outside in the sun or sitting near a window can help you get the light you need to manage shift work disorder.
Exposure to natural light can help regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. It can also help improve your mood and energy levels. If you can’t get outside during the day, try sitting near a window at work or home.
Talk to your doctor if you struggle to adjust to the night shift. They can help you find ways to manage your shift work disorder.
Make Your Schedule as Effective as Possible
Shift work disorder is a very real and serious condition that can profoundly impact your health and quality of life. It is important to do everything possible to make your schedule as effective as possible to manage shift work disorder.
There are a few key things to remember when creating a schedule that will work for you.
First, you need to be realistic about your sleep needs. If you are not getting enough sleep, it will be tough to function correctly.
Second, you must ensure you are taking breaks during your shifts. It is essential to take time to rest and rejuvenate your body.
And finally, you need to be flexible. If you are rigid in your schedule, it will be tough to make any adjustments that may be necessary.
If you can keep these things in mind, you will be well on your way to creating a schedule that will work for you and help you manage shift work disorder.
Communicate with Your Manager About Maintaining a Bright Workplace
It’s important to be able to see clearly while you’re working. Good lighting not only helps with productivity but also helps to create a more comfortable and inviting work environment.
If your workspace is poorly lit, it’s time to talk with your manager about making some changes.
Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol Before Bed
If you’re one of the millions of people who work shifts, you know how important it is to get a good night’s sleep. But if you’re struggling with shift work disorder (SWD), you may find that caffeine and alcohol are disrupting your sleep.
SWD is a circadian rhythm disorder that can make adjusting to working nontraditional hours difficult. Symptoms of SWD include insomnia, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.
While caffeine and alcohol may seem like they help you sleep, they can make SWD worse. Caffeine can make it difficult to fall asleep, while alcohol can make you wake up more during the night.
If you’re struggling with SWD, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed is best. Instead, stick to a regular sleep schedule and create a relaxing bedtime routine.
Establish a Regular Sleep Schedule
If you’re struggling to manage your sleep work disorder, one of the best things you can do is establish a regular sleep schedule. That means going to bed and waking up simultaneously every day, even on weekends.
A regular sleep schedule can help you get the quality sleep you need to function best during the day. It can also make it easier to fall asleep at night and reduce the overall symptoms of your sleep work disorder.
Adjusting can take time if you’re not used to following a regular sleep schedule. But once you do, you’ll likely find that it greatly affects your overall sleep quality and how you feel during the day.
A person’s work schedule can have a major impact on their health.
It can be tough for people working the night shift to exercise regularly. Regular exercise has many benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions.
Exercise also helps improve mood and energy levels, which can be especially helpful for people who work the night shift.
Several types of exercise can be done in a short amount of time, so there is no excuse not to get moving! If you are struggling to find time to exercise, talk to your doctor about taking medication for shift work.
This medication can help make it easier to stay active and healthy despite your busy schedule.
Avoid Long Commuting Times to and From Work
Working the night shift can take a toll on your body. Not only do you have to worry about getting enough sleep during the day, but you also have to worry about how your long commute affects your body.
A recent study found that people who have long commutes are more likely to suffer from insomnia. The study found that people with 90 minutes or more commutes were twice as likely to suffer from insomnia than those with shorter commutes.
Avoid Working Long Hours in Night Shifts
If you’ve ever worked a night shift, you know how difficult it can be to adjust to a new schedule. Working long hours or night shifts can affect your body and mind.
You may feel tired during the day, struggling to concentrate, irritable or anxious.
Working long hours or night shifts can also lead to what’s known as night shift syndrome. Night shift syndrome is a collection of symptoms that can occur when you work long hours or night shifts. Symptoms of night shift syndrome include fatigue, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating.
You can do a few things to help ease the transition if you work long hours or night shifts.
First, limit your night shifts to three nights per week. This will give your body time to adjust to the new schedule.
Second, make sure you get plenty of rest during the day. This means taking breaks and getting a good night’s sleep when you’re not working.
Finally, eat healthy foods and stay hydrated. This will help your body to function at its best.
Talk to your doctor if you struggle to adjust to working long hours or night shifts. They can help you identify your symptoms’ cause and recommend treatment options.
Change Your Perspective and Make Sleep a Priority
We all know how important sleep is to our overall health and well-being. But, for some of us, getting a good night’s sleep is easier said than done. If you’re one of the millions of Americans who work the night shift, you may be at a higher risk for night shift fatigue syndrome.
Night shift fatigue syndrome is a condition that can be caused by several factors, including working long hours, irregular shifts, and sleeping during the day. The condition has several symptoms, including insomnia, exhaustion, and irritability.
If you’re struggling with night shift fatigue syndrome, there are a few things you can do to improve your sleep and overall health.
First, it’s important to change your perspective on sleep. Instead of thinking of sleep as something you have to do, try to think of it as something you want to do. Make sleep a priority, and give yourself enough time to get the rest you need.
Second, create a sleep schedule and stick to it as much as possible. Go to bed and wake up simultaneously every day, even on your days off. This will help to regulate your body’s natural sleep cycle.
Third, create a relaxing bedtime routine. This may include taking a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to calming music. Doing these things can help to prepare your body and mind for sleep.
Fourth, avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. Both substances can interfere with sleep and make it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Fifth, exercise regularly. Exercise can help to improve your sleep quality and can also help to reduce stress and anxiety levels.
Finally, if you’re still struggling to get a good night’s sleep, talk to your doctor. Several medications can be used to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders.
If you’re struggling with night shift fatigue syndrome, don’t despair. You can do things to improve your sleep and overall health. By prioritizing sleep and following simple tips, you can get the rest you need and improve your quality of life.
Create a Sleeping Environment as Conducive to Sleep as Possible
When you work the night shift, you’re up against many obstacles to getting a good night’s sleep. But there are things you can do to make your sleeping environment as conducive to sleep as possible.
First, try to keep your sleeping environment as dark as possible. Use blackout curtains or an eye mask to block out any light.
Second, make sure your sleeping environment is quiet. Use earplugs or a white noise machine to drown out any noise.
Third, keep your sleeping environment cool. A cool, comfortable temperature will help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
Fourth, limit your exposure to electronics in your sleeping environment. The blue light from screens can disrupt your sleep. If you must use electronics in your bedroom, use them sparingly and for a limited time.
Finally, make sure your bed is comfortable. A comfortable mattress, pillows, and sheets will help you fall asleep.
By following these tips, you can create a sleeping environment conducive to sleep. And that can help you avoid shift work disorder.
On Workdays and Days Off, Adhere as Closely as Possible to a Regular Sleep Schedule
We all know how it feels to be exhausted after a long work day or stay up too late the night before.
Most of us have also experienced the grogginess of trying to function on too little sleep. It can be difficult to get through the day when our minds and bodies are not well-rested.
This is why adhering to a regular sleep schedule is so important, even when we don’t have to work.
While it may be tempting to stay up late or sleep in on our days off, this can disrupt our sleep patterns and make it even harder to get a good night’s rest when needed.
Our bodies operate on a natural sleep cycle, and when we don’t stick to a regular sleep schedule, it can be difficult for our bodies to keep up.
Permit Yourself Time to Recoup Sleep
According to the National Sleep Foundation, people who work rotating or night shifts are more likely to suffer from sleep problems. This is because their body’s natural sleep-wake rhythm is disrupted.
When people don’t get enough sleep, they can become tired and irritable, leading to accidents on the job. To help prevent these problems, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that people who work rotating or night shifts allow themselves time to recoup lost sleep. This means getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep each day, even when they are not working.
Take Naps, but Don’t Abuse Them
The most common treatment for SWD is medication. However, it is important to take naps only when necessary and not abuse them. Napping for too long can make it harder to sleep at night.
Smoking is a major health hazard for everyone, but it can be especially dangerous for shift workers. Smoking increases the risk of shift worker syndrome, which causes fatigue, sleepiness, and problems with concentration and coordination.
Eat Well and Wisely
Working the night shift can be difficult for many reasons. One of the biggest challenges is battling fatigue. Here are some tips to help you eat well and wisely to minimize fatigue while working the night shift.
First, it is important to understand that not all foods are equal. Some foods will help you feel more alert, while others will tire you. Foods high in sugar and caffeine should be avoided as they will give you a quick burst of energy followed by a crash.
Instead, eat balanced meals with protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Protein provides lasting energy, complex carbohydrates stabilize your blood sugar, and healthy fats help improve cognitive function. Good options for protein include lean meats, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and nuts.
Establish Routines That Help You Relax Before Bedtime
If you tossing and turning in bed or struggling to fall asleep, it may be time to establish some bedtime rituals. Routines can help signal your body that it’s time for sleep. Here are a few tips to help you relax before bed:
- Avoid watching television or working on the computer in bed. The bright light from these screens can keep your mind active and make it harder to fall asleep.
- Establish a regular bedtime and wake-up time, even on weekends. This can help regulate your body’s natural sleep rhythm.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime. Caffeine can keep you awake, and alcohol can interfere with your ability to fall asleep.
- Spend some time relaxing before bedtime. Try reading, listening to calming music, or practicing yoga or meditation.
Work-related sleep disorders are a common problem that can lead to fatigue and decreased productivity. Cognitive-behavioral counseling is a therapy that can help people with work-related sleep disorders. This counseling helps people reduce stress and improve their sleep habits.
Demonstrate Some Compassion to Yourself
Shift work disorder can be a real challenge for people who work the night shift. It’s important to be kind to yourself and understand you’re having a tough time. Try to get as much sleep as possible, eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly.
If possible, try to take some time for yourself during the day to relax and de-stress. Remember, you’re not alone in this – many people have to deal with shift work disorder symptoms.
As many as 1 in 5 people may suffer from a sleep disorder known as shift work disorder. People who have this condition often have difficulty sleeping during the day and staying awake at night. This can lead to problems at work and home.
Your doctor may prescribe medication to help you sleep during the day or stay awake at night. There are also things you can do to help yourself, such as avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed and getting regular exercise.
Shift work is gaining popularity as a new way to earn extra income. It’s a great option for those who love working but have irregular or inconsistent schedules. However, it’s important to consider the risks involved when choosing this career path and whether they are worth taking on to avoid putting your health at stake.
We hope reading about these risks has helped you decide whether the night shift is safe.
If you decide this shift working lifestyle suits you well, we recommend using NightShiftCare apps and products from trusted brands offering 24-hour support and guidance while managing your night shifts safely!
FAQs | Is Shift Safe? Night Shift Disorder
Is shift work sleep disorder real?
Yes, shift work sleep disturbance is a legitimate disorder. It occurs when a person’s job schedule makes sleeping difficult. This can interfere with concentration, focus, and general productivity.
Does working the night shift affect your mental health?
Some evidence is that night shift employment might be detrimental to mental health. One study indicated that night-shift nurses were more likely to report symptoms of despair and anxiety than day-shift nurses. The interruption of the body’s normal rhythm induced by night shift employment is believed to contribute to these symptoms.
How do you get diagnosed with shift work disorder?
Shift work disorder may only be diagnosed after a thorough health care expert assessment. Nevertheless, several criteria may be considered, including the severity, frequency, and effect of the individual’s symptoms.
How long does it take to recover from years of shift work?
It depends on the individual. Some people may recover in a few weeks, while others may require a few months.
Is shift work disorder a disability?
Whether or whether shift work disorder qualifies as a handicap would likely be determined on a case-by-case basis. However, many persons with shift work disorder may fit the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA definition ) ‘s of a person with a disability, as the disorder may seriously impede one or more main living activities.
Does melatonin help night shift workers?
There are conflicting findings about whether melatonin can benefit night shift employees. Some research indicates that it can aid in regulating the body’s normal sleep-wake cycle, while others conclude that it has no substantial effect. More study is required to evaluate whether melatonin is a useful sleep aid for night shift workers.
What vitamins should I take if I work nights?
If you work at night, you may have a greater requirement for B vitamins and vitamin D than those who work during the day.
The B vitamins aid energy production, whereas vitamin D aids calcium absorption. Consult your physician to determine if you should take multivitamins or other supplements.
Do night shifts age you?
Since everyone’s physiological responses to working night shifts vary.
Nonetheless, there are a few general considerations to bear in mind. First, operating against your body’s normal circadian cycle might result in exhaustion and an overall sensation of being run down. In addition, working night shifts might interrupt regular sleep patterns and make it more difficult to obtain the necessary rest. This can all contribute to accelerated aging.
Can working the night shift make you depressed?
Some individuals find night shift work unpleasant and may develop depression, while others find it tolerable.
Pay attention to your body and any indicators of depression, such as feeling sluggish or hopeless, and get assistance if necessary.
Why can’t I sleep after the night shift?
There are several reasons why night shift workers may have problems sleeping. The circadian rhythm, which governs the body’s normal sleep-wake cycle, is interrupted when someone begins working evenings. When exposed to light, the body releases more stress hormone cortisol, making it more difficult to fall asleep. Lastly, many individuals find it challenging to shift to sleeping during the day after being accustomed to sleeping at night.
Can working the night shift cause anxiety?
Some evidence indicates that working the night shift may raise the likelihood of acquiring anxiety. Working at night interrupts the body’s normal cycle, which can result in feelings of exhaustion and worry. In addition, night shift workers may have less exposure to natural sunshine, which may contribute to feelings of worry.
Does the night shift affect hormones?
Evidence shows that night shift employment might disturb the body’s normal hormone balance. This might result in drowsiness, weariness, and concentration difficulties. In addition, night shift employment may raise the likelihood of developing obesity and cardiovascular disease.
Does the night shift make you lose weight?
Some people who work the night shift lose weight, while others may gain weight. Diet and exercise habits, among other variables, can affect weight reduction or gain.
Does working the night shift cause infertility?
Some study suggests that working the night shift may raise the chance of infertility. However, other research contradicts this assertion. Further study is required to ascertain whether or not working the night shift affects infertility.
How can I live a normal life working the night shift?
You may do a few things to make it simpler to maintain a normal lifestyle while working the night shift. First, attempt to maintain a routine as closely as possible. Eat, go to bed, and wake up simultaneously, etc. This will assist your body in adapting to the new schedule. Additionally, try to receive as much natural light during the day as possible.
This will assist in controlling the normal sleep schedule of your body.
- WebMD: Sleep and the Night Shift
- Clinical Advisor: Shift Work Disorder: When and How to Shift Workers’ Gears
- PubMed: Shift work sleep disorder: burden of illness and approaches to management
- PubMed: Shift work disorder in nurses–assessment, prevalence and related health problems
- Healthline: Shift Work Sleep Disorder
- Sleep Foundation: Shift Work Disorder Symptoms
- Cleveland Clinic: Shift Work Sleep Disorder
Featured Photo by kosmsos111
Editor’s Note: When reading a health article, it is important to remember that the information presented is not meant to replace advice from a doctor. Every person’s body is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. Be sure to consult with a healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle.