Nowadays, night work has become essential to the productivity and performance of many organizations.
However, these working conditions can cause a number of problems and inconveniences for employees, for whom a healthy lifestyle and effective sleep management are essential.
As human beings are programmed to be active during the day, their biological clock will constantly be trying to return to its natural state. This desynchronization prevents sleep from being as deep and restful as night’s sleep, which affects most bodily functions.
Psychological effects associated with night work can include strong irritability, feelings of loneliness and isolation, decreased interest and motivation, and sometimes even a depressive state.
In addition to these effects, various physical disturbances can occur, such as:
- Gastrointestinal and digestive problems
- Increased production of cortisol, the stress hormone
- Decreased melatonin production, which increases the risk of cancer
- Irregular menses
- A higher risk of miscarriage or premature birth
Safety is also a very important issue of night work. As a matter of fact, night workers are seven times more prone to road or work accidents than day workers.
The main factors in play are fatigue, a lower level of support from coworkers and weakened concentration and vigilance due to insufficient or poor-quality sleep.
To mitigate the negative effects of night work, it is essential that workers adopt a healthy lifestyle. Here are some basic strategies to apply:
- Prioritize a regular sleep and wake schedule
- Create a favourable environment for falling asleep in the daytime
- Eat healthy and at fixed times
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol six hours before bedtime.
- Perform regular physical activity
- Plan social and family activities
Studies also show that behavioural intervention can make these strategies even more effective. In this way, professionals can help workers fall asleep more easily and improve their sleep quality.
It is also essential that any company with a night shift be well informed of the risks to its employees’ health and safety.
Having both parties take charge of the situation is definitely the path to promoting workers’ global health and wellness.
To find out more about this topic, we suggest you read the reference document.
In case of any questions, doubts or a specific need for support, don’t hesitate to contact the specialized support service offered to the eligible individuals.