How shift work can impact your health – and what to do about it!
You may have heard that shift work can negatively impact your health. You may be feeling this yourself! Do you work evenings, nights, early mornings, rotating shifts, long hours or travel in different time zones? Are you tired all of the time, having trouble adjusting your sleep schedule, having trouble focusing, or experiencing other health problems? Do you find yourself missing work more often because you don’t feel well?
How shift work can impact your health:
- Insomnia, fatigue and sleepiness
- Digestive issues
- Altered mood, irritability, anxiety and depression
- Poor concentration, cognition and performance efficiency
- Trouble maintaining a healthy body weight
- Hormone imbalance, PMS, low fertility
- Weakened insulin resistance, increasing risk for type II diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome
- Increased risk of cardiovascular disease (by altering blood pressure and blood lipids)
- Increased risk for certain types of cancer like lung and breast cancer
- Shift workers are also more likely to have a higher body mass index (BMI), to smoke and to experience higher levels of stress.
Some of these health risks come from the misalignment on the circadian rhythm or ‘internal clock’ that is affected by staying awake at night time. Others can be attributed to increased physical and mental stress and the coping mechanisms created to handle that stress.
Interesting fact – did you know that using computers, tablets and phones for long hours especially at night can also affect our circadian rhythm negatively in the same way shift work does?
The good news is there are many strategies to help you with these concerns without having to quit your job! A naturopathic doctor can help guide you!
Things you can start today:
- Install a blue light filter on your computer, tablet and phone that is set to your sleep/wake cycle.
- Incorporate a sleep hygiene routine – use room darkening curtains, wear ear plugs, use a journal to write down any thoughts that are keeping you awake, avoid eating a heavy meal before you go to sleep.
- Pack nutritious snacks and bring water with you to keep your energy up and stay hydrated while at work.
- Try to fit in some exercise before you go to work to increase your energy and decrease stress – this can be a 30 min walk, some yoga or something else you enjoy!
We can help you develop a plan and routine that works with your work schedule to help decrease potential health risks and help with current health conditions or concerns you may be experiencing. I have personal experience as a nurse working shift work in the hospital and in the community and know first-hand how this can affect your life, health, wellbeing and happiness. Come talk to us today and get started on your wellness plan!