Not everyone works a typical 9 to 5 shift. There are millions of Americans who work the night shift, also known as the graveyard shift, which is during the hours of 11 to 7 am. People working this shift must change their schedules drastically in order to work and manage their personal life. As someone who has never worked a late shift, I commend those that work these hours, which must create a lot of havoc in their personal lives. If you are a parent, working the night shift cannot be easy.
According to Men’s Health Network in a study in conjunction with Celphalon, Inc., your shift can create problems with your health. 1,500 shift employees that work non traditional shifts were polled (nurses, air traffic controllers, firefighters, factory workers, etc.) and the evidence clearly indicated a pattern. The study “found that 79% believe they are negatively impacted by their shift work reporting anxiety, irritability, anger and depression, and decreased work productivity and time spent with family”.
These traits are usually referred to as shift work disorder (or shift work sleep disorder). It “affects up to 25% of night or rotating shift workers and has potential consequences including decreased productivity and trouble focusing, an increased susceptibility to intestinal and heart diseases”.
I spoke to my friend, Claire, who works the graveyard shift at a Neo-Natal unit at a large hospital here in St. Louis, and she says that there are times when she feels that she doesn’t have enough time to spend with her kids or her family since they are gone when she is home and then when they are home, she is getting ready to leave for work.
“I can’t say that I suffer from shift work disorder, but I do know that working a shift like I do does make it hard to be a part of the lives of the people you love because everything seems to happen when you aren’t available. I sleep from the hours of 12 to 6 and then once I get up and do the family thing, it’s time for me to get ready for work. It’s not ideal but it’s what I do, and I am fine with that.”
According to the Wake Up Squad, shift work disorder is treatable and is a recognizable disease in the medical community. “Because of this disruption in the body’s natural rhythm, people with shift work disorder may struggle to stay awake during their working hours, known as excessive sleepiness, or have trouble sleeping during their sleeping hours, known as insomnia”.
It is commonly known that the air traffic control accidents that have been happening recently are due to this disorder. The cases of individuals falling asleep on the job while working these difficult hours have been well documented.
What are your thoughts? Do you or someone you know work the night shift and suffer from shift work disorder?