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Health Dangers of Working Too Hard

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Turn Off The Lights And Say Goodnight Early

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Disrupting your circadian rhythm affects you physically and emotionally. Shift work can be either alternating or perpetually inverse schedules. Short-term effects include sleep distur­bances and sleep loss. Shift workers tend to get less than the full amount of sleep their bodies’ need. This accumulates “sleep debt;” large debt may lead to mental and physical fatigue.

Workers can also feel isolated from friends and families. Regular exercise or proper nutrition is a challenge, leading to obesity. Shift work seems to lower leptin levels. Thus, night workers may feel hungrier and eat more than day workers.

Health Dangers of Working Hard For Your Money

There are more serious long-term health associations, like cardiovascular disease. One analysis reports that for every five years a person performs shift work, his risk of stroke increases by 5%. This rise is evident only after 15 years of continuous shift work.

One Japanese study correlates double-shift workers with 50% more diabetes than day workers. A 2007 research study linked shift work with 300% increase in metabolic syndrome. Manifestations include high blood pressure, w, obesity, and unhealthy cholesterol levels. Many researchers associate increased risk of peptic ulcers and GERD with shift work.

Cancer risks go up after 20 years of shift work.

Women working night shifts can have problems with fertility and pregnancy. Shift work is also correlated with increasing risk of pregnancy complications, endometriosis, irregular and painful periods.

Even more serious evidence suggests that cancer risks go up after 20 years of shift work. International Agency for Research on Cancer explains that shift-worker cancer risk may result from disruption of the circadian system because of the lack of light exposure at night.

Cleveland Clinic advises patients both to “avoid frequently rotating shifts,” and also to “decrease the number of night shifts worked in a row.” But what if sleep issues are due to insomnia a workaholic disorder?

Sleep Duration Recommendations
Sleep requirements decrease with age but still average 8 hours nightly for adults.

Tips For Falling Fast Asleep

We reach a point of diminishing returns as we attempt to fight our bodies’ sleep indicator. The pineal gland produces melatonin to make us sleepy. But we counteract it by trying to stay up and concentrate. Our productivity drops. Hence, we spend hours doing something that may take minutes when rested.

I sometimes awaken at 3AM, lying in bed thinking about many things that need to be done. Often, when getting up and actually try to do any of them, my body recognizes the sleep deprivation. Within 30 minutes I fall asleep on the sofa. So getting up for a sip of water, to open a window, or turn off unnecessary lights can be more therapeutic than lying in bed when restless.

If you can’t afford a new mattress, consider one of the many memory foam mattress toppers.

Invest in a comfortable bed. A mattress that is too hard or too soft is not conducive to restful sleep. A key sign to lack of comfort is a preference for sleeping in a chair or sofa rather than going to the bedroom. If you can’t afford a new mattress, consider one of the many memory foam mattress toppers. Above 2 inches thick can be difficult to manage. Some offer a trial period but repacking them is nearly impossible.

The link between lack of sleep and cancer is now so strong that the World Health Organization has classified any form of nighttime shift work as a probable carcinogen.

During a long stretch of programming, I am guilty of mentally debugging code while laying in bed. Conceiving late-night or early-morning solutions makes me pop up and run to the computer. For restful sleep, don’t fill your mind with complexities or anxiety. This includes arguing with others, watching violent television programs, or even sensational news stories. Create a calming buffer between stressful activities and bedtime.

Take a warm shower before going to bed in a cool room. The rapid decrease in body temperature slows your metabolism for restful sleep. Write letters or thank-you cards to friends. Read a few pages from The Good Book or read this article the next time you have difficulty sleeping. Visualize a tranquil happy place.

To support the writing of useful articles about cardiology, ClinicalPosters sells human anatomy posters, scientific posters and other products online. You may sponsor specific articles, remit a small donation, or leave an encourag­ing comment to keep the work going. Stay safe and A Bit More Healthy.

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Kevin Williams is a health advocate, artist, pro­gram­mer, and writer of hundreds of articles for multiple web­sites. He has 17 years experi­ence as a Neutrogena Research and Scientific Affairs graphics con­sul­tant.

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