Though working in night shifts is not so uncommon today, normal hours of work are generally meant to work during the day, which lefts time for recreation and rest. Rest is a night time activity and work is a daytime activity. The sleep patterns get disturbed when people work in shifts or with extended hours.
Working during night and resting in the day makes us get away from our body clock. While night shifts have become a common phenomenon today, it not only ruins our social lives but can also have an impact on our health. Here are the ways how working night shifts may affect your health:
- Sleep: Extended hours of work or shift work has an adverse affect on sleep. Sleep loss is the major effect of shift works and it is mostly noticeable after a night shift. The shift work can even affect the quality of sleep and the quantity of sleep may also be reduced up to two hours a day. This can lead to sleepiness at work and the effect of shift work is linked to a long distance from home to the workplace.
- Tiredness: People working in abnormal hours often complain about feeling tired. It is particularly noticed after a night shift when compared to morning and afternoon shift. However, this complaint has been reduced in people who has an improvement in physical fitness.
- Mental Health: Working in night shifts can have a great negative impact on mental health. People who work night shifts are at higher risk of developing anxiety and depression. Staying awake during the night on regular basis leads to a gradual drop in the creativity, alertness and productivity when compared to those who sleep during nights.
- Gastrointestinal Disorders: Many people who are shift workers complain that they suffer from digestive disorders frequently. Also, they often suffer from heartburn, dyspepsia and abdominal pains.
- Reproductive Issues: Women of reproductive age are at higher risk of developing fertility issues due to working particularly in night shifts. This may be probably due to the disruption of the menstrual cycles and increased stress. Some of the special health conditions that result due to the shift work include spontaneous abortion, low birth weight and prematurity.
- Breast Cancer: Women who work in night shifts for long periods are at higher risk of developing breast cancer. The main reason why the night work might increase the risk of breast cancer is not completely known. But the shift work may lead to unhealthy lifestyle habits that could independently increase the breast cancer risk. So, women should make improvements in their physical activities to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the intake of alcohol.
- Cardiovascular Diseases: Night shifts can cause a heart attack. The risk of heart diseases increases due to the independent causes such as unhealthy diet and lack of physical exercise. Though we know the factors that cause coronary heart diseases such as smoking, poor diet, no physical activity and high BMI; rotating work shifts are one of the main cause of cardiovascular diseases.
- Diabetes & Obesity: Shift workers don’t get enough sleep and the sleep at the wrong time of day can increase the risk of diabetes and obesity. The abnormal changes in the sleep patterns can cause the body to struggle in controlling the sugar levels. The disrupted sleep could also affect the metabolism and the raised blood sugar would lead to increase the risk of developing obesity and diabetes for a long time.