The figure not only includes traditional night shifts, but any work outside the typical 9 to 5 pm shift.
Examples abound: the cleaners start early in the morning, workers at stores open late at night, taxi drivers, and health workers.
For some this is simply the “nature of work” and for others it may be the only way to work with children or family to care for.
But whatever the reason, a global 24-hour culture means shift work is on the rise and this trend is unlikely to change.
Scientific research, however, has associated shift work with a number of health problems, including weight gain, sugar problems (such as diabetes), and heart disease.
Many of the problems we may experience due to shift work are caused by the effect that being awake “at the wrong time of day” has on our circadian rhythm, or body clock.
And recent research suggests that this impact is more complex than previously thought.
It seems that we don’t just have a body clock, but we do have a main circadian clock and a series of peripheral clocks, as if any of our organs had its own clock.
If the rhythm of our peripheral clocks is not synchronized with our main clock, there may be problems.
And this is not the only complication: the bacteria in our intestines have a diurnal rhythm that can also be disturbed by shift changes, which can have negative effects on the body
But what can we do?
There is no easy way to solve the problems of shift work, since choosing another work pattern is simply not possible.
But there are some things that can be done, and it is best to try the steps that we will explain below to see which ones work.
The key is to try to keep all your watches corporal s synchronized between them. This means trying to stay as close to a “normal routine” as possible.
Here we give you five tips to get it.
Try to eat the same foods at the same times that you would if you were awake.
That is, breakfast in the morning, lunch in the middle of the day and a meal in the late afternoon, but little by little during the night.
Medical dispensary research suggests that eating at night has detrimental health effects.
This is because our blood glucose and fat levels are higher in the late afternoon and evening, so eating fatty, high-sugar foods at those times can raise these parameters to dangerous levels.
So it is advisable to avoid large fatty foods at night and instead choose lighter meals in the afternoon and morning, including foods such as vegetables, pure protein (seeds, nuts, and low amounts of meat, fish, or cheese without fat), fruit and salads.
Physical activity tends to increase alertness levels, so if you plan to go for a run, do it before your shift, not when you’re going home to sleep.
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Sleep is particularly important for shift workers.
This means that it is important to have the best possible context for sleeping.
Experts say sleeping in the dark is crucial, so you should make your curtains or blinds dull, or wear an eye mask while you sleep.
Sunlight in the early morning has a bluish tint and turns redder towards sunset.
The blue light wakes us up and the orange glow helps us sleep. So if you are coming home after a night shift in the early morning hours, when the sun is rising, you should try to block out the sunlight as much as you can.
Special sunglasses that block blue light can help.
Remember that it can take several hours for the effect of caffeine to wear off.
This effect varies from person to person, but the best advice is to avoid drinking caffeinated beverages just before the end of the shift.
5. Working hours
Finally, if you have a choice, try to keep the same turn at all times.
If you can keep the same shift over the weeks, you can limit changes and negative health effects of shift work.