Shift workers as we know them are people who work through the night. But, ideally, it is not so. Anyone who works outside a steady 9 to 5 schedule is considered a shift worker. Working in shifts has become more prevalent in the last few years thanks to the numerous BPOs that have started across the country. Anyone working in shift goes through serious psychological and physiological changes that give rise to health issues
Working in a shift can have a serious impact both in the short and long term. Short term symptoms are equivalent to symptoms faced by individuals who have had a long flight, or a late night at work these include Gastrointestinal symptoms like upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and heartburn, Increased risk of injuries and accidents, Insomnia, decreased the quality of life and general feeling of being unwell.
Long-term effects are much serious and these include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. A Japanese study found that shift workers — specifically, those who worked 16-hour shifts — had a 50% higher incidence of diabetes than those who work during the day for normal hours.Metabolic syndrome is a combination of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, obesity, and unhealthy cholesterol levels. These lead to diabetes, heart attacks, and stroke. Apart from these individuals working in shifts are prone to obesity, mood swings and depression and serious gastrointestinal problems.
Here are 10 healthcare tips for individuals working in shifts:
- Take an hour or so to relax after work, whether it is day or nighttime. Relaxing music or a warm bath will help.
- Eat meals at the same time each day seven days a week. This schedule helps maintain the body’s clock.
- Eat high protein foods (egg whites, peanut butter on crackers, roasted nuts etc) to keep you alert. If you simply must eat some sweets, which tend to make you sleepy, do so at the END of your shift.
- Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages before bedtime. Although the sedative effect helps you fall asleep, it tends to wear off in 2 – 3 hours and causes disturbed sleep in the latter half of the night.
- Avoid coffee, tea, colas, and other caffeine drinks, which interfere with sleep. During a coffee break, drink orange juice and walk around. Physical activity promotes wakefulness.
- Avoid going to bed on an empty stomach. If you don’t feel like eating much, try a glass of milk or dairy products, which promote sleep.Keep the temperature in your bedroom cool, not cold.
- Darken bedroom or wear comfortable eyeshades. Eyes are sensitive to light even when the lids are closed, preventing you from falling asleep or getting consolidated sleep.
- Block out daytime noises, which can disturb deep restful sleep. Use comfortable sponge ear plugs or “white noise” electrical devices such as fans, air conditioners, or a quiet tape.
- Exercise, at least, every other day AFTER sleep. Daytime sleepers should avoid early morning exercise, which can promote wakefulness during the day.
- Beware of certain medication. Avoid prolonged use of sleeping pills and other sedatives, which interfere with normal sleep patterns. Beware of cold and allergy medications which have sleep-related side effects. Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) has a stimulating effect and antihistamines (Dristan) can cause drowsiness.
Follow these tips and bring a permanent shift in your lifestyle. Get healthy and fit.