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    Private GP Services & Occupational Healthcare in Edinburgh, UK.

    Is working nightshifts affecting your health?

    Is working nightshifts affecting your health?

    Posted on July 17th, 2023

    Would you describe yourself as a morning lark or a night owl? Everyone is different – whilst some people might bounce out of bed and be at their most productive first thing in the morning, others may find they are more creative in the evenings and come up with their best ideas in the wee small hours. For this reason, some employees might find their natural rhythm doesn’t quite align with their required working hours. Whilst some might adjust well to a work pattern of nightshifts, others may find it impossible to perform at their best. In fact, it could even damage their health.

    Read on as the Occupational Health experts at YourGP discuss the effects of working nightshifts and offer tips on how to ensure you get the best quality sleep during your time off.

    Finding your rhythm

    Every person has a natural internal clock, or circadian rhythm. Over the course of a 24-hour cycle, your body will carry out a range of essential functions and processes – from the release of hormones and control of your temperature, to your sleep-wake cycle. Your body’s natural circadian rhythm is aligned to day and night, but certain factors can disrupt your rhythm. One such factor is working nightshifts.

    The effects of nightshifts on your health

    Employees who find it difficult to adjust to a work pattern of nightshifts may experience a range of negative effects including fatigue, impaired work performance, and increased number of accidents.

    What’s more, some pre-existing health conditions can be made worse by working nightshifts. Gastrointestinal disorders for example, can be exacerbated by the disturbance of appetite and digestion. Cardiovascular disorders can also worsen, as can epilepsy and diabetes, as well as depression and anxiety.

    Get a good quality sleep

    It can be difficult to sleep during the day between nightshifts but the Occupational Health experts at YourGP recommend the following steps to give yourself the best chance of a good quality rest:

    • After your shift, go for a short walk, take a bath or read to help your body unwind and create a distinction between work and rest.
    • When working a series of nightshifts, try to get into a routine of going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day / night.
    • Use blackout blinds to minimise the light in your bedroom.
    • Request that other people in the property are mindful of your need to rest so they minimise noise and disruption, and turn off your mobile phone.
    • Ensure the temperature of your bedroom is cool.
    • Avoid relying on caffeine to stay awake during your nightshift as this can interfere with your ability to sleep after your shift.
    • Eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly between nightshifts.
    • If you’re experiencing problems getting to sleep between shifts, neither alcohol nor sleeping tablets are the solution. Turning to either of these on a regular basis can lead to a host of problems. Instead, seek help from a healthcare professional.

    What can employers do to protect nightshift workers?

    Employers have a duty of care to protect the health and wellbeing of their employees. They should therefore be mindful of the potential effects of working nightshifts and make reasonable adjustments where possible to minimise any negative effects.

    The Occupational Health experts at YourGP recommend that employees carry out any safety critical work at the start of their nightshift if possible, as opposed to at the end when they are more likely to be tired and make mistakes. Furthermore, regular rest breaks should be scheduled throughout nightshifts.

    Employees should make their managers aware of any pre-existing medical conditions that could potentially be exacerbated by working nightshifts. And where an employee feels that their work pattern of nightshifts is having a detrimental effect on their health, employers should be open to discussing other options.

    If you would like to find out more about safeguarding the health and wellbeing of your employees, call 0131 225 5656 or email occhealth@your.gp to arrange a consultation with one of our team.

     

    I had been at this practice since late 2018. The staff have been nothing but amazing! The care given here has to be the best care I’ve ever received at any practice. Very polite, greeted with a smile and always made sure you were comfortable.

    The response times are extremely quick, always on that day or early next morning, pointing you into the right direction. Even if they were unable to assist, they would always make sure you knew where to go and what to do.

    Your appointments are always accommodated to your needs, some imes I was unable to make my routine appointments in person so they would happily offer a Skype call which made things easier as I live a few hours away, but was always happy to make the trip when I could as it was always a pleasant experience.

    I cannot thank this practice enough for the help that they gave me, I now feel confident and comfortable with myself and I would definitely recommend their services!

    Elijah K

    YourGP is regulated by Healthcare Improvement Scotland – the regulator for independent healthcare services across Scotland. Healthcare Improvement Scotland accepts complaints at any time. Contact them at:

    Independent Healthcare Team
    Gyle Square | 1 South Gyle Crescent | Edinburgh | EH12 9EB
    0131 623 4342 | his.ihcregulation@nhs.scot

    YourGP is registered with the Joint Council of Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP) Registered Office: Station Road, North Street, Havant PO9 1QU.