Many jobs today work around the conventional time schedule, such as working 8am to 4pm. The human body comes built with a biological clock that keeps everything in sync. One may ask what a biological clock is. This paper will explore the effects that are caused by working shift work. Shift work can be defined as “a system of employment where an individual’s normal hours of work are, in part, outside the period of normal day working and may follow a different pattern in consecutive periods of weeks” (Dictionary,2009) .
Working shift work may cause many negative effects in many aspects such as sleep, family and health. Studies by researchers from ‘The NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL of MEDICINE’ show that people who worked shift work had a higher amount of reported vehicle collisions. (Barger, Cade, Ayas, Cronin, Rosner, Speizer & Czeisler, 2005). With shift working having many issues it may make one re-think whether it is worth the toll it takes on the body. This paper explores all of the major issues that arise from working shift work.
Major health effects from working shift work
People that have worked shift work have reported issues such as psychological problems and sleep deprivation. In a study conducted by ‘Taylor& Francis Health Sciences’ they conducted a study with 3122 people who worked on a shift work schedule. The study concluded that there was a significant difference of issues when looking at their home situation, health, and job attitudes; in relation to someone who works a regular shift (Demerouti, Geurts, Bakker & Euwema, 2004). Studies show that many people who work shift rotation have experiences ‘Gastrointestinal disease’, this disease plays a large role on the stomach causing major discomfort. ‘Gastrointestinal disease’ is commonly seen with careers that require sitting for a long period of time (Knutsson, 2003). Research shows that many people who work shift work have a greater chance to have cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular disease is caused by prolonged periods of hours worked (Knutsson, 2003). Studies were conducted on cardiovascular disease in relation to shift work. Studies concluded that there was a 40 % greater chance to have cardiovascular disease if working shift work compared to regular day shifts (Knutsson, 2003). There are many more negatives that come along with working shift work. These negative effects on the body are seen to be prolonged and will cause damage or discomfort. There have been many reports of issues with diabetes and metabolic issues (Knutsson, 2003). A study was conducted with 26 police officers which concluded working shift work could very likely cause serum triglycerides, glucose and uric acid (Knutsson, 2003).
Sleep deprivation from working a shift work schedule The human body works on environmental light which keeps it in tune (Drake, Roehrs, Richardson, Walsh, & Roth, 2004). With working shift work the body is unable to stay in sync with its biological clock, which causes sleep deprivation for workers (Drake, Roehrs, Richardson, Walsh, & Roth, 2004).
With shift workers not being exposed to natural light, it limits their body to adjust to a natural sleep cycle. Studies have shown that people who work shift work more multiple years still fail to adapt to a proper schedule (Drake, Roehrs, Richardson, Walsh, & Roth, 2004). Studies have shown that shift workers feel a more compelling sleepiness urge throughout their shift compared to day-time and afternoon workers. A supporting cause behind that issue falls on the quality hours of sleep that a shift worker receives.
Though a shift worker may be getting 6-8 hours of sleep, it does not compare to the sleep that would be obtained while sleeping during the night (Drake, Roehrs, Richardson, Walsh, & Roth, 2004). A study was conducted where random phone dialing took place to interview people about the shift hours and problems that came along with it (Drake, Roehrs, Richardson, Walsh, & Roth, 2004). Interviewees were asked to select which shift they were working or an option for neither or not employed. Individuals that were working shift work or rotating shifts were compared to people who were working regular shifts. Evening workers were excluded from the study because research shows that they receive more sleep than morning workers (Drake, Roehrs, Richardson, Walsh, & Roth, 2004).
The study was measured by two questions that the survey asked which were: ‘what is your average weekday total sleep’ and ‘weekend total sleep time over a period of 2 weeks’ (Drake, Roehrs, Richardson, Walsh, & Roth, 2004). The study concluded that individuals who did shift work/rotation had significant higher rates of insomnia and other health issues (Drake, Roehrs, Richardson, Walsh, & Roth, 2004). The study was able to see a large difference between regular workers and shift workers; which makes it evident that there is a higher rate of sleep deprivation for the group that does shift work/rotation (Drake, Roehrs, Richardson, Walsh, & Roth, 2004). Since it is evident that a shift worker has poor quality sleep, one may wonder what the cause is.
A study was conducted by ‘Scand J Work Environ Health’ where they measured the quality of sleep that a shift worker receives (Härmä, Tenkanen, Sjöblom, Alikoski, & Heinsalmi 1998).
The study started by analyzing sleep complaints by shift workers who were asked to answer an 11+ (4) question questionnaire. The questions that were asked were “difficulties in falling asleep, difficulties of waking up, waking up in the middle of sleep or difficulties to fall asleep again, nightmares, a feeling of insufficient sleep when waking up, waking up too early, disturbed or restless night sleep, tiredness and sleepiness during work and leisure time, irritated and tired eyes, a “heavy feeling” (Härmä, Tenkanen, Sjöblom, Alikoski, & Heinsalmi 1998).The study concluded that night workers and shift workers experienced a large rate of the symptoms. With having difficulty to be well rested, it leaves the human body to be exhausted and tired causing safety issues.