Working Nights and Your Health

The nightshift. It’s something that many of us are only too familiar with – and few of us prefer it. Not all the world goes to sleep at night. There are many vital functions in society – and many profitable industries – that really do need to keep going through the graveyard shift. Everyone knows this. However, despite the fact that nightshifts are necessary and common, few people work them consistently over the course of their whole working year. In fact, such an approach is relatively rare, and nightshifts are normally staggered in blocks. This allows night shift workers to experience, at least some of the time, an ordinary working day.

Perhaps nobody understands the perils of working a night shift better than healthcare workers. This is not only because they have to work them regularly but also because their expertise means they know only full well the adverse effects of working nights. If you’re currently browsing the healthcare jobs boards and wondering what type of healthcare professionals you would like to take up or specialize in, then working late might well be a factor in your decision. For doctors and nurses, this is no easy ride.

The Health Hazards of Working Nights

There is no point lying about it – working night brings with it health hazards that simply do not apply to day workers. It is not all doom and gloom and healthcare workers do not work nights all the time. Nevertheless, it’s more than worth setting out just what the health hazards are. That way, those coming up through education or training can know full well what they’re getting themselves into. Health Jobs Nationwide, a nurse practitioner jobs recruitment service, says that all candidates for a role in healthcare should prepare themselves for this type of work, as it can take some time to settle into.

And to know how to settle in, it is worth knowing what these hazards are:

Obesity and Higher Rates of Diabetes

Healthcare work is physically demanding, and only the most disciplined of healthcare workers can actually sleep enough during the day to work as efficiently at night. For the majority, snacking on sugary, energy-boosting snacks and drinks is the way to get through the shift. And this is the result.

Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Fatigue, stress, a poor diet, and a lack of exercise are the major factors that cause cardiovascular disease. These are all factors that are pretty common among healthcare night workers. Hospital work is stressful enough at the best of times, and some professionals such as nurses are left with scant time to have a proper meal. All of this is bad news for anybody’s chances of developing heart disease.

Circadian Rhythm Disruption

If hospital workers were to work nightshifts all the time, then they could potentially align their body clock with that schedule – although that would still take considerable effort. For hospital workers working nights only some of the time, it’s almost certain that their circadian rhythm will be disrupted. An unfortunate effect of this is an increased risk of cancer.

Working Nights is Associated with Reproductive Disorders

There are studies that show that men, on average, tolerate night work more than women, the reason being that fertility disorders have been linked to nightwork. This means an increased risk of miscarriage, preterm birth, and irregular menstrual cycles.

While these problems might all seem pretty severe (and they are) it is however worth pointing out that self-care and regular breaks from night shifts can indeed ameliorate the problem. But nobody has ever pretended that healthcare work is easy – and this is one of the reasons why.