What are the worst things shift workers have to put up with?
Working shifts is hard! Shift workers know that, even if the rest of the world hasn’t got a clue.
Those living with shift work are well aware of the issues and problems they have to face daily.
Here are some of the truths about living with shift work
Work – Sleep – Repeat
For most workers, coming home at the end of work, doesn’t mean the end of the day. There’s time in the evening for food, activity, the gym, Netflix, relaxing – all before you go to bed to sleep.
For night shift, or late shift workers, the first thing you’ll do when you come home from your shift is fall into bed and sleep!
Many night and late shift workers find themselves in a pattern of sleeping and working, and not much else.
Even after the week of nights is over, your body clock won’t recover immediately, making the work life balance almost impossible to maintain.
Body Clock out of Rhythm
The worst consequence of the shift work, is that it can have a serious impact on your health because it affects your circadian rhythm.
It doesn’t matter how much you become accustomed to it, the effects of sleeping in daylight and working at night are massive on the body.
There are all kinds of ways to help the body adjust, but sometimes it just doesn’t work – which means lots of exhaustion, stress and tension, alongside the more worrying health implications.
Sleeping at Stranger Times
An out of rhythm body clock means that shift workers find themselves falling asleep at strange times, as their body loses all sense of rhythm and normalcy.
You might be out having dinner and and find your eyes are closing before you know it. Or you might sit down to enjoy your favourite box set, and wake up, not knowing whether Jon Snow made it through his latest battle or not.
Losing control of when and where you sleep is a common consequence of the exhaustion brought on by shift working. And although it may sound innocuous, the long term effects are not healthy
Lack of Sunlight
Sleeping during daylight hours, the sun can feel something like the enemy. But during winter months when the nights are longer, shift workers can go days without seeing the sun.
Whilst thousands of Scandinavians will tell you that you get used to it, the sun does help us to keep healthy.
Sunlight has been proven to boost your immune system, and help with depression. On top of that, sunlight helps the skin synthesise vitamin D, while killing microbes and aiding your immune system.
The days when most of us could survive on Mars bars, crisps and Coke are long gone. To be healthy and fit, we need healthy food But for many shift workers, access to healthy food isn’t available. Which means a return to teenage days of buying lunch from the ice-cream van, or a vending machine.
Some employers are beginning to see the light, and provide shift workers with proper meals, but with a circadian rhythm shot to pieces, it’s likely you won’t feel like eating properly anyway. The easy danger of comfort food looms large over every shift worker.
Lack of a Social Life
One of the most common gripes from shift workers is that they barely get to see their family, let alone their friends. Plans are made for nights out, fun and all kinds of activities that shift workers just can’t join in with. Plenty of relationships go sour as a result, but keeping up with friends becomes a full time activity in itself when everyone is working when you’re free, and vice-versa.
The plus side, is that you will almost certainly create an instant bond with your fellow workers. Shift workers tell us that fellow shift workers can become like an extended family. Because they are the one set of people who can relate to the horrors you are working through.
Lack of recognition
Last, but by no means least, is that sense many shift workers have, that people who work regular hours just don’t have a clue how difficult shift work can be.
“You’re on nights? But it’s probably quieter at nights, isn’t it?” – Resist the desire to scream!
Shift workers are the oil that greases the engines of society. We need them, but few of us really have an understanding of what they have to do.
That’s why, here at My Shift Planner, we salute all your shift workers out there, no matter what your job, where it is, or what hours you are working this week, we know how hard it is, we recognise what you’re doing, and we stand up and say, thank you!
To help with your shift planning, with your social life and family life and to keep you ticking, we’ve created My Shift Planner, free to download for iOS and Android devices.
Take control of your shift life with My Shift Planner today.