Shift work, night shifts and irregular working hours can represent significant health risks for employees. Sleep deprivation and sleeping disorders are common risk factors in shift workers (Härmä & Sallinen 2008). Shift workers for example tend to get into more accidents than workers with regular daytime working hours. In addition, shift workers are at increased risk for stomach ulcers, coronary heart disease (risk increased by 40%), thrombosis, breast cancer and reproductive disorders. Shift work may also be a risk factor in cause adult-onset diabetes and colonic cancer. In addition to the physical risk factors, shift work also sets a challenge to maintaining social relationships and hobbies, since a shift worker’s schedule is often so different. (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health 2014.)
Firstbeat Lifestyle Assessment database suggests that especially during the night’s sleep a shift worker’s recovery is significantly reduced. Sleep is often too short and share of recovery is decreased.
In shift work the importance of healthy lifestyle choices should be emphasized. For example alcohol consumption, unhealthy eating habits and poor aerobic fitness may ruin recovery and slow down the replenishment of resources.It is important for a shift worker to get enough sleep, especially during the days off from work, in order to replenish their resources. The more sleep deprived they get, the more important it is to sleep even more than normally during the off days. The day after the night shift should be focused on activities that promote recovery such as relaxation exercises, physical activity with light intensity and other activities that do not stress the already exhausted body.
Sufficient amount of sleep, healthy nutrition, regular physical activity and minor use of intoxicants can enhance recovery remarkably.
The choices made during night shifts can have a major impact on recovery. Regular nutrition, sufficient hydration and taking breaks effect not only in your vitality but also the Lifestyle Assessment results. When the working days do not take all your energy, you have more resources left to spend on other areas of life.
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