Night Shifts 101: Intro & Health Risks

For the longest time I’ve been receiving requests from my readers regarding my job. Blog posts such as the ’Clouds 101’ (in which I’ve simplified ceratin varieties of clouds, how they form etc.) the ’Meteorological Phenomena’ posts (through which I’ve attempted to demistify certain phenomena such as the moon bow, sun pillars etc.) – they definitely give off the impression that I’m a meteorologist (along with the name of the blog, duh). And that I am – but being a meteorologist is so much more than looking up to the sky, counting clouds as sheep and enjoying nature. Since I work in 12h-long day and night shitfs, that certainly makes my job that much different from any regular nine-to-five kinda jobs out there. These posts (yes, plural!) which I’m about to write have the purpose of bringing you (the reader) closer to understanding shift work and how it affects people, for you to better understand people who you know that lead this lifestyle. Because it is a very specific, different lifestyle and I think bringing awareness of specific things surrounding it will make things easier for the workers, their family, friends etc. as more and more jobs and professions require and will require shift work. I think this will be an interesting topic which I’ll split into five or six sequels all which can be found under the name ’Night Shifts 101’. To kick things off, I’ll only mention some basic info for all of us to have better understanding and have common ground – mainly, today we’ll mention the health effects of working in night shifts. Working nights aka the “graveyard shift” (lol) is tough. Sleeping when the sun is out and working when it’s dark can take a real toll on your sleep schedule – but it could affect way more than just your ZZZs. People who work nights are at high risk of developing several chronic conditions. Working nights can interfere with the circadian rhythm, your internal clock that helps regulate metabolism, hormones and other biological processes. Your circadian rhythm is regulated in part by sunlight, and when you have to sleep during the day, it throws your rhythm off and leads to less sleep and less quality sleep. Shift workers have consistently been demonstrated to get one to three hours less sleep in a 24-hour period than non-shift workers, and the sleep they do get may be more fragmented and of poorer quality. Plus, being awake in the dark and trying to sleep during the day affects secretion of many hormones and chemicals, and this disruption may be part of the problem as well. This lack of sleep and hormone disruption puts you at risk of a host of health issues. Shift workers have an increased risk of obesity, cancer, prostate for men, breast [cancer] for women, ulcers, pregnancy complications, diabetes and heart disease. One of the strongest ties is between night shift work and breast cancer. A 2012. study published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine looked at 18,500 Danish women who worked nights between 1964. and 1999. and found that working nights increased the women's risk of developing cancer by 40% (!).  There is also an increased risk of diabetes that comes with working the night shift – a 2013. study published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that shift work was associated with a 9% increased risk of diabetes, primarily due to the poor eating habits and metabolism changes that come from working overnight. The study in Occupational & Environmental Medicine looked at more than 3,000 people living in France, about half of whom had experience working shifts. Those who had done so, either in the past or present, had lower scores on tests of memory, processing speed and overall brain power than those who worked normal office hours, the study finds. These effects persisted even after researchers controlled for effects of sleep deprivation and they got even stronger after people had worked nights for 10 or more years. Those long-term shift workers had worse memory than those who had always worked days, plus cognitive deficits so steep that the study authors equated them to 6.5 years of age-related decline. There is a bit of good news, though. After stopping shift work for five years, cognitive abilities returned to levels of people who had never worked shifts. Though the study didn’t look at the brain structures of the participants, a small study in 2001. found that flight attendants who were chronically jet lagged actually had smaller temporal lobes. Shift workers, who sleep during the day, may also have a vitamin D deficiency, the study authors say, or may be more prone to metabolic disorder – but the disruption of circadian rhythms is still the main contender. Working the night shift doesn’t just come with physical effects, but mental and emotional effects as well. When you work nights, you develop a feeling of restlessness, like you’re constantly walking around jetlagged. You experience a decreased ability to pay attention, which is a problem because a lot of these jobs require precision and having a decreased cognitive ability really inhibits your job function. A 2012. study in the journal Academic Emergency Medicine administered several cognition tests to emergency department physicians before and after their shift. One of the tests focused on how well they could recall words. The researchers found that after the night shift, doctors could remember significantly fewer words compared to the doctors who worked a day shift. They also reported poorer sleep quality. Night shift workers also report higher levels of stress, which comes with its own set of problems. We don’t perform as well under stress. People that work the night shift report higher instances of anxiety, depression, relationship problems. What that boils down to is that we’re kind of cut off from friends and family, so we feel isolated. I will discuss both aspects of night shifts (physical effects and mental/emotional effects) from my own, personal point of view later on. I felt that it was important that from the get-go I share some facts with you and then to have a more personal approach with several of funny (and not-so-funny) anecdotes along the line. I’ll also share tips on how to survive night shifts and to transition into daytime easier. You’ll also catch a glimpse of my night shift beauty kit (lady has got to take care of herself, you know) and there will be a few rants from regarding certain things. Hopefully you’ll all get a few laughs out of this, maybe learn something new, perhaps understand better why some people act strange or don’t have as much time to socialize if they work the same way I do or if you’ve been considering working night hours – maybe these posts will give you more insight of what’s ahead of you (or if that is a job you can or cannot handle in the first place). Do let me know what you think of this post idea in the comments section below. Sending you lots of sleepy hugs 🙂

Vec jako (zaista jako) dugo vremena konstantno dobijam upite da napravim post o svom poslu. Clanci koje ste mogle citati na blogu poput rubrika ’Clouds 101’ (u ovim postovima pisem o odredjenim vrstama oblaka, nacinu na koji se formiraju itd.) ili rubrike ’Meteorological Phenomena’ (kroz koju pokusavam demistifikovati odredjene meteoroloske fenomene poput mjeseceve duge, suncevih stubova itd.) – ovakvi tekstovi zasigurno odaju dojam da je autorka bloga meteorolog. Naravno, tu imate i trag u nazivu bloga sto je bilo prilicno ocigledno. I zaista jesam u meteoroloskog struci no moj se posao ne sastoji samo od promatranja neba, brojanja oblacica poput ovcica u snovima i uzivanju u prirodi. Posto moje radno vrijeme traje 12h i podijeljeno je u dnevne i nocne smjene, ta cinjenica automatski cini moj posao utoliko drugacijim od standardnih poslova po klasicnom administrativnom vremenu. Ovi postovi (da, biti ce ih vise!) koje cu pisati tokom narednih sedmica imaju za svrhu da vama (mojim citateljicama i citateljima) priblize rad u smjenama a pogotovo nocni rad i kakve efekte takav nacin zivota ima na ljude. Jer zaista se radi o specificnom nacinu zivota koji zahtjeva potpuno prilagodjavanje svih aspekata jedne individue radnim satima. Vjerujem da ce podizanje svijesti i informiranje ljudi olaksati stvari kako smjenskim radnicima, tako i njihovim porodicama, prijateljima itd. Pogotovo vjerujem da je ovo dobra ideja posto sve vise profesija i radnih mjesta zahtijeva i zahtijevati ce smjenski rad. Mislim da bi ovo mogla biti interesantna tema koju cu podijeliti u pet ili sest nastavaka koje cete moci citati pod nazivom ’Prirucnik za nocne smjene’. Kako bi zapoceli temu, ovaj put cu spomenuti neke osnovne cinjenice za koje vjerujem da je bitno znati kako bi imali neku zajednicku, pocetnu osnovu. Danas cemo se fokusirati na zdravstvene efekte i rizike koje sa sobom nosi nocni rad. Rad u nocnim smjenama (poznatim i kao “graveyard shifts” lol) je tezak. Spavati kada sunce izadje (dan) i raditi kada sunce zadje za horizont (noc) ce se opasno poigrati sa redoslijedom spavanja – no ovakav poremecaj moze da utice na mnogo toga osim na san. Ljudi koji rade u nocnim smjenama su izlozeni velikom riziku obolijevanja od sirokog dijapazona hronicnih bolesti. Rad nocu remeti cikardijski ritam (tzv.ritam prirode) koji je u biti unutarnji sat koji pomaze regulisanje metabolizma, hormona i ostalih bioloskih procesa. Nasim cikardijskim ritmom velikim dijelom upravlja sunceva svjetlost. Samim time, kada spavate tokom dana, u potpunosti nastaje haos u organizmu sto vodi do manje sna i manje odmora. Smjenski radnici iznova demonstriraju da uopsteno dobijaju jedan do tri sata sna manje u toku perioda od 24h u odnosu na ljude koji ne rade nocu. Takodjer je san koji imaju isprekidan i slabijeg kvaliteta. Na to dodajte cinjenicu da ostajanje budnima tokom noci i forsiranje sna tokom dana utjece na izlucivanje mnogih hormona i hemikalija tako da je i ovaj poremecaj djelimicno dio problema. Manjak sna i hormonalni poremecaj izlazu nocne radnike povecanom riziku obolijevanja od gozajnosti, raka prostate kod muskaraca a raka dojke kod zena, ulkusa/cira, komplikacija tokom trudnoce, dijabetesa i srcanih oboljenja. Jedna od najizrazajnijih poveznica je upravo veza izmedju nocnog rada i raka dojke. Istrazivanje iz 2012. objavljeno u zurnalu Occupational and Environmental Medicine tokom kojeg je ispitano 18,500 Dankinja koje su radile nocu u periodu izmedju 1964. i 1999. godine je dovelo do zakljucka da je rad nocu kod zena povecao sansu za obolijevanje od raka dojke za 40% (!).  Takodjer je prisutan povecan rizik od dijabetesa kroz nocni rad – istrazivanje iz 2013. takodjer objavljeno u zurnalu Occupational and Environmental Medicine je pokazalo da nocni rad nosi 9% vecu sansu za oboljevanje od dijabetesa, ponajvise zbog nezdravih prehrambenih navika i promjena koje prate nocni rad. Drugo istrazivanje koje je takodjer objavio zurnal Occupational & Environmental Medicine sprovedeno je na preko 3,000 ljudi nastanjenih u Francuskoj od kojih je polovina radila u smjenama. Ono koji su radili nocu (bilo u tom trenutku ili nekada u proslosti) su imali losije rezultate u testiranju pamcenja, brzine procesiranja informacija i uopstenog mozdanog kapaciteta u odnosu na ljude koji su radili normalno radno vrijeme. Takvi losiji rezultati su ostajali prisutni te su se pogorsavali kod osoba koje su radile nocu 10 godina i duze. Naprosto ti ljudi su iskazivali losije pamcenje u odnosu na ljude koji rade danju. Takodjer su kod njih zabiljezeni takvi kognitivni deficiti koje su sprovoditelji istrazivanja usporedili sa mozgom koji je stariji 6,5 godina (nego sto uistinu jeste). Nakon pauze od nocnog rada od pet godina, kognitivne sposobnosti su se vratile na normalan nivo osoba koje ne rade u nocnim smjenama. Iako ovo istrazivanje nije uporedilo strukturu mozga ucesnika, manje istrazivanje iz 2001. godine je ukazalo da stjuardese/stjuardi koji su hronicno umorni od mijenjanja vremenskih zona imaju fizicki umanjen slijepoocni rezanj. Smjenski radnici  koji spavaju danju isto tako pate od manjka vitamina D i skloniji su poremecajima metabolizma – ipak, poremecaj cikardijskog ritma ima najznacajniji utjecaj. Nocne smjene ne ostavljaju samo fizicki trag vec imaju i psiholoske, emocionalne efekte na radnike. Kada radite nocu, javlja se osjecaj nemira – kao da stalno hodate uokolo pod dzet-lagom (umor od mijenjanja vremenskih zona). Osjecate znacajan pad koncentracije sto je veliki problem posto dosta poslova koji se rade nocu zahtijevaju visoku preciznost stoga umanjene kognitivne sposobnosti itekako mogu da se odraze na funkcionalnost na radnom mjestu. U okviru Istrazivanja iz 2012. godine objavljenog u zurnalu Academic Emergency Medicine sprovedeni su brojni kognitivni testovi nad ljekarima prije nocne smjene i nakon obavljene nocne smjene. Jedan od tih testova se fokusirao na to koliko rijeci mogu da zapamte. Istrazivanje je otkrilo da su ljekari nakon nocne smjene mogli zapamtiti dosta manje rijeci u odnosu na ljekare koji su radili danju. Takodjer je prijavljena losa kvaliteta sna. Nocni radnici imaju povisene nivoe stresa sto samo po sebi vuce dosta problema. Ocigledno da necemo dobro raditi ako smo pod stresom. Nocni radnici su prijavili i sklonost anksioznosti, depresiji te probleme u licnim odnosima tj u privatnom zivotu. Na kraju se stvar svodi da smo na odredjeni nacin “odsjeceni” od prijatelja i porodice tako da se osjecamo i dosta izolirano. Raspraviti cu oba aspekta na koji nocne smjene uticu (fizicki i psihicki/emotivni) sa vlastitog, licnog stajalista u narednim postovima. Sada sam zeljela da na samom pocetku predjemo neke cinjenice zajedno a kasnije ce postovi poprimiti nesto prisniji ton uz dodatak par smijesnih (i ne tako smijesnih) anegdota koje sam dozivjela. Isto tako cu zapisati i par savjeta kako lakse podnijeti nocne smjene i kako lakse napravtii tranziciju od posla u normalnu, funkcionalnu osobu po danu nakon nocne smjene. Takodjer cu vam pokazati svoj beauty kit koji imam za nocne smjene (dama se mora brinuti o sebi, ne?) a necu zaboraviti sve zaciniti sa par prigovora u vezi nekih situacija koje sam dozivjela tokom svih ovih godina rada u smjenama. Nadam se da ce vas ovi postovi nekada nasmijati, mozda naucite nesto novo, mozda cete nakon njih imati vise razumijevanja spram ljudi koji rade nocu a ako razmisljate da se zaposlite na radn mjesto sa ovim specificnim radnim vremenom – drzim fige da ce vam ovi postovi pruziti bolji uvid u to cemu se mozete nadati, sta ocekivati (i da li je takav posao uopste za vas). Javite mi u komentarima sta mislite o ovoj ideji za postove? Saljem vam mnogo pospanih pozdrava 🙂

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