Health Tips for Shift Workers

Health Tips for Shift Workers

Health Tips for Night Shift Workers

For any unit to be able to provide round the clock service to its customers, it is imperative to divide its work force into various shifts, the most common pattern being morning, afternoon and night. While this formula works for the employer, from the employee’s point of view it calls for a complete adjustment of his routine because shift timings are often against the natural human physiology.

Health problems faced by shift workers

Courtesy of having to remain awake throughout the night, shift workers often suffer from sleep related disorders or lack of sufficient sleep both of which play havoc on their mental alertness as also physical health. Nutrition is also an important issue because often snacking late in the night entails tucking in fast food, junk food or energy drinks all of which cause weight gain not to mention being devoid of nutrients.

Lack of proper and regular eating habits leads to several gastric problems like constipation, indigestion, diarrhea and heartburn and these have a tendency to aggravate further if ignored and not treated on time. Complete lack or minimal exercise also leads to several deeper problems like cardiovascular disease with stroke being an imminent outcome and a rise in blood pressure.

Tips for Staying Healthy Through Shifts

Diet – Balancing your diet by adding a significant amount of vegetables, fruits and whole grain products while cutting out on high-fat or sugar-rich food stuffs helps to maintain gastro-intestinal health. One of the ways of protecting your tummy from all kinds of problems entails carrying packed food from home and munching it throughout the shift.

Hydration – Staying hydrated is one of the ways of remaining alert and this does not necessarily mean drinking water during the shift. You can devise a plan as per your physiology and ensure that you remain well hydrated throughout without your duty or your sleep getting disrupted. Something that should be a total no-no is relying on caffeinated beverages like coffee or energy drinks because although these provide temporary stimulation, they prove to be much more harmful in the long run.

Exercise – One of the best as also proven ways of staying fit, exercise helps not only to clear away cobwebs from your mind also enables you to manage your body weight. Taken in form of a brisk walk, a few stretches or simply yoga, exercise can make all the difference between an enjoyable shift and a tiresome one.

Increasing self awareness – All through the duration of your shift you should be conscious towards your body weight, calorie intake and timings of your meals. By maintaining body weight at a healthy level, eating smaller portion more number of times and rescheduling your meal timings, you can bid your health woes goodbye.

Sleep well – Rather than rely on sleeping pills, you must work towards acquiring a sound sleep and this can be accomplished through certain measures. Relaxing for an hour after your shift and before going off to sleep helps in sinking into a deep slumber as would accessories like shades and a comfortable room temperature.

Reviewed By:

Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)

Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad