Night Shift Workers Face Many Dangers

July 23, 2018

Working third shift might seem like an ideal solution for numerous reasons.

For instance, parents of young children often find it a worthwhile decision to take night shifts so they can spend time with their sons and daughters during the morning hours. Younger professionals may discover that being willing to work “graveyard” gives them a leg up on other opportunities or pays better than traditional working hours. And some people simply appreciate being able to take a side hustle that adds to their income while others are asleep.

As a result, around 15 million Americans call shift-work their home-away from home, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Of course, the night shift is notorious for being associated with risks, not the least of which is the possibility of being targeted by criminals. Plus, those who work with machinery or operate vehicles while on the late shift may be more prone to workplace injuries or roadway accidents. Still, individuals gladly accept those dangers to have employment.

The big question, though, is whether they would still feel comfortable working the third shift if they thought it could harm them healthwise?

New studies link physical and mental concerns with working nights

When the Nurses Health Study examined 24 years in the lives of medical employees, they discovered a shocking correlation between nurses who had worked third shift and their chances of getting breast cancer. In fact, the researchers showed that a nurse who repeatedly worked the night shift when younger doubled his or her odds of being diagnosed with the condition at some later point.

Similarly, a Chinese-based study published in the Annals of Medicine found that male workers who consistently worked overnight had interrupted sleep patterns compared to counterparts who worked during the day. Over time, those sleep disturbances seemed to put them at a 43 percent higher likelihood of developing cancer if they didn’t nap or stay on a healthy sleep routine.

As if these analyses weren’t enough to make night shift workers rethink their preferred work styles, yet another piece of research found a higher rate of obesity among those who regularly worked third shift. The link was so rampant that the study authors encouraged people on night shift schedules to consider moving to other shift schedules to avoid falling into sedentary habits.

Ways to combat wellness issues associated with third shift

Obviously, not every worker can instantly change his or her working situation or make the move from third shift to first or second shift. Still, workers can make some lifestyle choices that may alleviate the stressors that come with working when the moon is up:

  • Incorporate fitness into the daily routine, even if that means going for a walk after the shift is done or heading to the gym four times a week before the shift starts.
  • Stay on a regular sleep schedule even on days when going in to work isn’t necessary.
  • Eat healthy foods and try not to snack on densely caloric, sugary foods and beverages on the job.
  • Limit caffeine use throughout the night shift to ensure better rest.
  • Switch to a first or second shift routine when it becomes available.

While working nights may appear to be the perfect solution to getting out of debt or building a waning savings account, it isn’t always a good long-term option. As with any working opportunity, the best decisions is to always learn the risks of any new job before jumping in and signing a contract.

Worried that your medical condition could be a result of unsafe working conditions? Talk to the legal experts at Wapner Newman Attorneys at Law.