Working Nights

A resource for improving the health and safety of shift workers since 1983

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The Impact of Daylight Saving Time

How are you feeling this week….even more tired than usual?  That may be due to Daylight Saving Time which occurred this past weekend. As we move the clocks forward, we lose an hour of that so very essential and precious sleep. On March 9 the Wall Street Journal published an article examining the side effects and repercussions of that lost hour (that loss has an even greater impact on shift workers!). To learn more, go to the Wall Street Journal……

 

Posted 2 years, 8 months ago.

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Reducing Injuries From Falls

Falls occur throughout the world at an amazing rate. According to the World Health Organization, falls are the second leading cause of accidental or unintentional injury deaths worldwide. In the United States, the National Safety Council reports that falls are one of the leading causes of unintentional injuries in the United States.

The chances of falling, slipping and tripping increase with inattention, illness, fatigue, and haste. Shift workers need to be aware of this as studies show that the disruption of normal sleep patterns due to shift work can cause drowsiness or fatigue, which can lead to increased workplace injuries.

The costs resulting from these falls are significant for all involved.

 

However, there is some good news out there about how we can begin to cut fall injuries.

 

Researchers studying falls report that people who were taught to practice balance exercises each day had a 37 percent reduced risk of getting injured in a fall and a 61 percent lower risk of experiencing a broken bone from the fall, compared with those who didnt do the exercises. Those are startling findings! While the researchers cant fully explain why improved balance prevents injuries, they have theorized that those with a good sense of balance are aware milliseconds sooner that they are falling and use primordial instincts to make adjustments and reduce damage from the impact.

What do these balance exercises consist of? They are as simple as standing on one foot for a count of 10 to 20 seconds a few times a day(holding onto something if needed) or putting on your socks while standing (leaning against a wall or bed is fine). So simple, but what a difference they can make!

 

Posted 3 years, 9 months ago.

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Wellness Programs and Social Media

Social media is proving to be an important tool for employers trying to encourage their employees to participate in Wellness Programs or to achieve weight/health goals. With much of the population looking at text messages, Facebook and Twitter each day, it appears to be the wave of the future.

The question at this point is how it should be used; many companies are coming up with ways it can be the most effective for their employees.  Chilton Hospital in New Jersey had tried for years to engage its employees in programs and initiatives aimed at promoting well-being and reducing health care costs. The resulting behavior changes were minor and covered only a small number of employees.  Then in 2011, Chilton tried a new approach; they entered a county-wide 100 day fitness challenge where employees from local companies formed teams of 6 and vied to see who could walk the most, lose the most weight and eat the healthiest. Participants logged onto a Facebook-like social network where they reported results and cheered each other on. As an incentive to participate, Chilton did offer a cash reward of $150 each to members of the winning team and $500 to the person who lost the most weight. Ultimately though, money was not the driving force; it was the challenge and online camaraderie that pulled people in.

Another company, incentalHEALTH, surveyed the participants in its own Wellness Program about their use of social media. It found that 90% of them were on Facebook and 81% texted daily. With this information, the company created a model which delivers wellness information via daily coaching texts and a Brag to Facebook feature. Other features being considered are online wellness journals, discussion groups and progress reports that can be shared with others.

There is an ever growing list of services and apps now available (with more and more coming out each day) for those companies interested in promoting wellness through social media. What better way to get people involved and to change unhealthy behaviors than by employing a media that is an integral part of so many their lives?

 

Posted 5 years, 5 months ago.

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New Information about Sleep and Shift Work

We’ve written extensively about the challenges many shift workers face as a result of not getting enough sleep. A few new studies provide more insight for those with sleep challenges. Continue Reading…

Posted 5 years, 11 months ago.

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Preventing Cardiovascular Events

Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death in the United States and other developed countries. Cardiac events are more common in winter, at the beginning of each month, on Mondays (in working people), and during the early morning hours of each day. Between 6 a.m. and noon, there is a 40% higher risk of heart attack, a 29% increased risk of cardiac death, and a 49% increased risk of stroke (if these events were evenly distributed throughout the day).

Several studies have reported a higher prevalence of coronary risk factors among rotating shift workers, including increased cigarette consumption, higher blood pressure, and increased cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Each of these risk factors can be controlled with lifestyle adjustments.
Continue Reading…

Posted 6 years, 2 months ago.

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Is Time Alone Good for You?

Our contact with shift workers indicates that they tend to spend a lot of time alone. The schedules shift workers are on are often not conducive to a lot of togetherness with family and friends. We often write about the need for shift workers to stay in touch and find time for recreation with others. Recently there have been several studies about the importance of time spent alone. Solitude has been linked with creativity, spirituality, and intellectual insight for decades. Now studies are showing that we remember things better when we are alone. Taking time for self-reflection is a good thing; being surrounded by others can hamper a person’s efforts to figure out what he or she really thinks of something. Perhaps shift workers’ time alone allows them time to know themselves more truly than other do.
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Posted 6 years, 8 months ago.

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Come On….Get up and Stretch or Walk Around a Little Bit

The results of two studies released in January will attack the couch potato tendencies present in many of us! Too much time in front of a TV or computer appears to dramatically increase the risk of heart disease and premature death from any cause, even regardless of how much exercise a person gets. Taking plenty of breaks, even if they are as little as one minute, appear to be good, both for people’s hearts and their waistlines. Continue Reading…

Posted 6 years, 10 months ago.

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Want Happy Memories this Holiday Season? Consider Scrimping on Sleep!

Sleep plays a crucial role in the development of memories….but lack of sleep may actually help you put your bad experiences aside!

Researchers showed healthy volunteers video clips of both safe driving and unexpected motor vehicle accidents. After viewing the clips, half of the volunteers were deprived of sleep while the other half received a normal night’s sleep. Sleep deprivation eliminated the fear-associated memories. The researchers suggest this may be due to the lack of memory consolidation that typically occurs during sleep.

So, if you’re not looking forward to unsettling holiday parties, stressful family events, too much overtime work, or dealing with the loss of a loved one – take it easy. But don’t be too focused on getting extra sleep. A little sleep deprivation may be a good thing. Just make sure you’re rested enough that you’re ready for what you need to do,  whether work or play!

Happy Holidays from WorkingNights.

©2010 Circadian Age, Inc. ˜Working Nights”

Posted 6 years, 11 months ago.

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Shift Workers Save Each Other “ The Chilean Rescue Tale”

All around the world people are celebrating the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners trapped underground for ten long weeks. And, at Working Nights we’re celebrating too! Like everyone else, we’re ecstatic that the trapped miners were brought to safety. But we’re also celebrating from a shift worker perspective! This is a story about the good that happens when shift workers join together to help other shift workers. This tale is a collaboration of shift workers “ from all walks of life“ miners, government workers from multiple countries, small business men from the U.S. and Chile, and others.

In this case, employees from Layne Christianson Co., whose largest business is drilling water wells, and Geotec Boyles, SA, Lane Christianson’s partner in Chile, worked round-the-clock for 33 days to save the trapped miners. The miners were buried nearly 2,300 feet underground after a cave-in. The Layne/Geotec workers drilled a 2,300-foot tunnel that was 28 inches in diameter; it was large enough for the 26-inch rescue capsule to fit through. Others were working 24/7 as well. NASA designers worked with the Chilean Navy to design the 13 foot long, 925 pound rescue capsule which the Chileans named Phoenix.

Achieving success took whole-hearted co-operation among all parties involved, starting with the miners themselves. These 33 men lived on rations normally meant to sustain them for no more than two or three days. Under the extraordinary leadership of their foreman, the men shared what little they had. They shared the conviction that each man’s survival depended on all of the others down there surviving too. The miners’ only contact with the outside world was through tiny drill holes used to send down food, water, medicine and games.

Agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting, and mining workers have historically worked long hours in difficult conditions. But 33 days straight takes the cake! Hopefully all shift workers that participated in this rescue, and all people working shift work will celebrate this great accomplishment.

©Circadian Age, Inc. ˜Working Nights”

Posted 7 years, 1 month ago.

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Getting on the Right Team

So much of work these days is team based, requiring groups of diverse people to work together on complex or risky initiatives. Consider the challenges that shift working groups face like workers overseeing our nuclear power safety, emergency medical teams, miners working deep underground, shift workers on oil rigs around the world…How can work be any more complex or risky than in these environments?

A recent study co-authored by MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, and Union College researchers, and published Sept. 30, in the advance online issue of the journal Science, addresses the cognitive capabilities of a team, as opposed to the intelligence of individuals. The study found that collective intelligence among groups of people who cooperate well is linked to the number of women in the group. The researchers reported that groups whose members had higher levels of “social sensitivity” were more collectively intelligent. The teams containing more women demonstrated greater social sensitivity and in turn greater collective intelligence.

So what is meant by the term socially sensitive? In the case of this study, it meant discerning emotions from looking at peoples’ faces. For an excellent book that will help you to improve your ability to read peoples’ faces, look up Emotions Revealed by psychologist Paul Ekman. The book shows how the following emotions are revealed through facial expression (including photos!).
1. Grief, sadness
2. Anger
3. Surprise
4. Contentment, Enjoyment, sensory pleasures
5. Fear
6. Disgust, contempt

Interestingly, the average and maximum intelligence of individual group members did not significantly predict the performance of their groups overall. Having a lot of smart people in the group didn’t automatically cause the group to rise to the top. In the study, 699 people were placed in groups with two to five members. The groups worked together on tasks ranging from puzzles to negotiations, brainstorming, games and complex rule-based assignments. Only later, when analyzing the data, did the researchers notice that the number of women in a group seemed to predict higher functioning teams.

Obviously, many men are also socially sensitive. The study researchers stated that they believed that having group members with higher social sensitivity is better regardless of whether they are male or female. Perhaps it would be good to study the social sensitivity of shift workers. After adjusting for the impact of sleep deprivation, shift workers are probably a pretty socially sensitive group. After all, it takes a certain amount of social smarts to work 24/7 and stay safe and healthy and connected with family and friends. And, these jobs do require a heightened amount of teamwork for success.

©2010 Circadian Age, Inc. ˜Working Nightss’

Posted 7 years, 1 month ago.

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A Primer of Sleep Disorders for Shift Workers

The fifth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) won’t be published by the American Psychiatric Association APA) for a few years (May 2013).  However, developing the roadmap of psychiatric diagnoses is a huge initiative as feedback is being sought from over 600 global experts.  The DSM provides the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health and other health professionals for diagnostic and research purposes.  In addition, insurance companies use the DSM diagnoses to determine which psychiatric conditions will be covered by health insurance.

Over the years since the last DSM was published (1994), new research has been published on many psychiatric conditions.  New research leads to new opinions on the identification and treatment of disorders. Sleep disorders, many of which often plague shift workers, have received a significant amount of attention in recent years and as a result, the current draft of the DSM-5 includes information that shift workers and their employers should be aware of.  The recommendations for revisions to the DSM are posted on the APA’s web site for the manual  www.DSM5.org.  Public review and written comments are welcome. Comments will be reviewed and considered by the DSM-5Work Groups.

The sleep disorder work group is recommending greater inclusion of sleep disorders. This is being proposed primarily as a way to educate non-expert sleep clinicians (such as psychiatrists and general medical physicians) about sleep disorders that have mental as well as medical/neurological aspects.

Among the changes being recommended the significant ones impacting shift workers include:

1.  Adding obstructive sleep apnea hypopnea syndrome to the DSM-5: this disorder was previously contained under the sleep disordered breathing category.  Obstructive sleep apnea is associated with snoring, obesity, increased waist girth, and male gender. Central sleep apnea is most strongly associated with advanced age, heart failure, and diabetes.  Cardiac problems associated with obstructive and central apnea are different.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea is associated with ventricular ectopy which is often experienced as a strong or skipped heart beat resulting from abnormal electrical activation originating in the ventricles (heart’s lower chambers) before a normal heartbeat would occur Studies have indicated that sleep apnea promotes ventricular ectopy.
  •  Central sleep apnea is more strongly associated with atrial fibrillation. During atrial fibrillation, the heart’s two upper chambers (the atria) quiver instead of beating effectively. Blood isn’t pumped completely out of the chambers, so it may pool and clot. If a piece of a blood clot in the atria leaves the heart and becomes lodged in an artery in the brain, a stroke results. About 15 percent of strokes occur in people with atrial fibrillation.

People with coronary artery disease whose blood oxygen is lowered by sleep disordered breathing may be at risk of ventricular arrhythmias and nocturnal sudden death. CPAP treatment may reduce this risk. Sleep disordered breathing, including apnea, may cause coronary artery disease and hypertension.

2.  Adding primary central sleep apnea to the DSM-5.  See 1. above. Point is to separate obstructive and central sleep apnea as the risk factors and outcomes for each are different.

3.  Adding restless leg syndrome to the DSM-5.  According to the DSM web site the rationale is that RLS is a sufficiently common syndrome to merit elevation to an independent category. In national and international studies the prevalence of RLS appears to be between 7-10% of the population, depending upon age and gender.

4.  Including circadian rhythm, delayed sleep phase, advanced sleep phase, irregular sleep wake rhythm and free-running sleep disorders in the DSM-5 as separate subtypes.  The rationale for this proposed change is based on new data indicating not only the differences in clinical characteristics, but also the underlying pathophysiology and in some cases, genetic basis for the different types of circadian rhythm sleep disorders.

To read more about other primary sleep disorders, follow the links below:

Primary Sleep Disorders

307.42 Primary Insomnia307.44 Primary Hypersomnia 347.00 Narcolepsy 327.3x Circadiam Rhythm Sleep Disorder 307.47 Nightmare Disorder

©2010 Circadian Age, Inc. ˜Working Nights”

Posted 7 years, 2 months ago.

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It’s Important to Talk with your Doctor about Working Shift Work

If you’ve read much of the material on this blog, you know that working shift work contributes to many challenging, but manageable, health and lifestyle issues.  One way to make sure you manage your own unique circumstances is by talking with your health practitioner about the fact you work shifts and raising any concerns you have about shift work.  A recent study by the University of Illinois at Chicago and the VA Center for Management of Complex Chronic Care found that physicians tend to follow a fairly standard approach to care for most health conditions.  Physicians do not generally take into account a particular patient’s situation or life context, so the fact that a patient works shift work is not likely to enter the doctor’s radar screen.  But, it’s critical for shift workers to have doctors who understand the unique challenges of working shift work.

Some of the special issues shift workers can face include:

1.  Sleep disturbances from work schedules distrupting sleep schedules.

2. Lower levels of Vitamin D resulting from lack of exposure to sunlight.

3. Overweight due to lack of nutritional food when working nights.

4. Higher rates of divorce due to lifestyle challenges of working shifts.

5. Increased risk for depression arising from lower levels of seratonin.

Read other posts throughout this blog for more areas of risk when working shifts.

Next time you go to your health practitioner, bring a list of your concerns and be vocal about them with your provider.  Make sure your doctor or nurse practitioner knows you work shift work.  The University of Illinois at Chicago and the VA Center for Management of Complex Chronic Care study found that doctors were more likely to respond to biomedical facts – e.g. test results – than to contextual red flags – such as I work  shift work and I’m concerned about my increased risk for cardiac problems even though I don’t have any family members with heart health issues.  Both biomedical facts and contextual red flags are equally important to planning appropriate care, according to the study researchers.  By planning care with your provider you can prevent shift work challenges from impacting your health and lifestyle.

©2010 Circadian Age, Inc. ‘Working Nights’

Posted 7 years, 3 months ago.

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Extra Sleep Improves Performance, Alertness and Mood

According to a new study being presented tomorrow at SLEEP 2010, the 24th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC, getting extra sleep over an extended period of time improves athletic performance, alertness and mood.  In this small study, football player participants extended their sleep for seven to eight weeks during the season, obtaining as much sleep as possible and aiming for a minimum of ten hours of sleep each night.  By substantially increasing their length of sleep, the players decreased daytime sleepiness and fatigue and felt increased vigor towards the end of their season.  For more details click here.  This study supports other research indicating that sleep improves the performance, alertness and mood of shift workers.

Posted 7 years, 5 months ago.

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Employee Health and Shift Work Lifestyle Training Leads to a Happier and Healthier Workforce….and to Increased Company Profits!

Is employee morale low at your company? Employee morale is higher when companies provide shift work lifestyle training.  Nearly 60% of employees at companies providing shift work lifestyle training rank their morale as good or excellent compared 35% without shift work training.[i]

Some shift workers are at a greater risk for cardiovascular disease.  Want to save upwards of $6,500 for each of these at-risk employees per year? And, protect your employees from this number one killer!

Workers in shift work operations generate, on average, more health care costs than other workers.  How about reducing overall company health care costs by 17% to 37% by targeting this population and helping them improve their health?[ii] Other cost savings may also be possible, including safety incident and workers’ compensation costs. Worker productivity may increase, possibly even up by 39%.[iii]

In extended 24-hour operations, a well-designed shift schedule or roster is unlikely to provide adequate protection from worker fatigue.  An integrated risk management system incorporates data analysis and training towards an effort of reducing fatigue and reducing a company’s costs, risks, and liabilities.[iv]

Among the shift worker population, 71% of men and 53% of women are overweight, 54% of workers have smoked or currently smoke, only 27.5% workers report having good nutritional practices, and 77% report not exercising regularly. Add to this the sleep deprivation statistics, 27% of shift workers report making mistakes of inattention several times per month, and it’s clear that both shift workers and their employers would benefit from worker health and lifestyle training.[v]  In addition, a fatigue management program would help target the reasons shift workers aren’t always as attentive and productive as day-time workers and help companies and employees develop some initiatives to reduce employee fatigue levels.

Each of the examples above show the overwhelming benefits to a company and its employees when an employee health and shift work lifestyle training program tailored to the company’s needs is implemented……..It’s all in the details, so read on for more information about targeting a program for your operation….. Continue Reading…

Posted 7 years, 5 months ago.

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What’s Green and Beige and Eaten All Over?

Pistachios! 

Researchers report that up to 95% of people do not get enough potassium.  Failing to meet the standard recommended daily intake levels can lead muscular cramps, twitching, and weakness, poor reflexes, fatigue, kidney failure, lung failure, and cardiac arrest. Also, too little potassium can result in insomnia, cognitive processing delays, and depression.  Getting enough potassium is important for shift workers who are already susceptible to sleep disorders, such as insomnia and restless leg syndrome, as well as fatigue.  When working shift work, it’s important to pay attention to eating nutritiously, which isn’t always easy to do.  Planning meals ahead is often the only way to guarantee a balanced diet when working nights, in particular.

Continue Reading…

Posted 7 years, 6 months ago.

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