Health Dangers of Working Hard For Your Money

Turn off the light and say goodnight.

By Kevin RR Williams

HEALTH Disrupting your circadian rhythm affects you both physically and emotionally. Shift work can be alternating or perpetual. Short-term effects of shift work 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, high blood sugar, obesity, and unhealthy cholesterol levels. Many researchers associate increased risk of peptic ulcers and GERD with 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.

Related: Why You’re So Groggy, Cranky and Obnoxious

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 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.

It is not unusual for me to awaken at 3AM, lying in bed thinking about many things I need to do. Often when I get up and actually try to do any of them, my body recognizes the sleep deprivation. Within 30 minutes I find myself asleep on the sofa. So getting up for a sip of water, to open a window, or turn off unnecessary lights can be therapeutic.

Related: Foods That Put Insomniacs To Sleep

Invest in a comfortable bed. A mattress that is too hard or too soft is not appealing. A key sign is a preference for sleeping in a chair or sofa rather than go to the bedroom. If you can’t afford a new mattress, consider one of the many memory foam mattress toppers.

When programming, I am guilty of mentally debugging code while laying in bed. Conceiving late-night or early-morning solutions make 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. Say goodnight and live A Bit More Healthy.

This 618-word article passes with favorable readability by the Hemingway Editor.

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Tags: double shift, dozing off, insomnia, night workers, somnolence

References
  1. The Health Risks of Shift Work. webmd.com
  2. Sleep Debt. wikipedia.org
  3. How Night Shifts Perpetuate Health Inequality. theatlantic.com
  4. 15 Science-Backed Ways To Fall Asleep Faster. huffingtonpost.com