Working Nights

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

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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 8 years ago.

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Next Time Don’t Complain, Tell a Joke Instead!

Almost all serial killers are men. That’s ’cause women like to kill one man slowly over many, many years. (Robert Duchaine)


Men who consistently leave the toilet seat up secretly want women to get up to go the bathroom in the middle of the night and fall in.  (Rita Rudner)


I found out why cats drink out of the toilet. My mother told me it’s because it’s cold in there. And I’m like: How did my mother know THAT?  (Wendy Liebman)Â


Laughing puts us in a positive mood.  The physiological reaction to humor results in lower stress hormone levels, increased immune activity, and lower cholesterol and blood pressure.  Repetitive laughing has similar effects on the body as moderate exercise, according to a study from Loma Linda University’s Schools of Allied Health and Medicine.


Laughter is good for preventing heart disease.  People with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations when compared to people of the same age without heart disease.  In this study, researchers from University of Maryland School of Medicine surveyed 300 people. Half did not suffer from heart disease while half had either suffered a heart attack or undergone coronary artery bypass surgery. The survey questionnaires included multiple-choice questions to see how much or how little people laughed in certain situations, and to measure anger and hostility.  The most significant finding from the study was that people with heart disease responded less humorously to everyday life situations. They generally laughed less, even in positive situations, and they displayed more anger and hostility.

As adults, we laugh about 35 times an hour during conversations with either friends or strangers.* When we laugh, 15 facial muscles contract, stimulating the zygomatic major muscle, causing your upper lip to lift up. The respiratory system is impacted so that air intake occurs irregularly, making you gasp. In extreme circumstances, tear ducts are activated, so that while the mouth is opening and closing and the struggle for oxygen intake continues, the face becomes moist and often red or purple. We may giggle or laugh out loud.

While many of us may laugh at a joke during a good movie or television show, the truth is that most of us laugh as a result of human interaction.  Have less interaction with others?  You’re likely to laugh less…..and this brings us to shift workers.  When working nights and sleeping days, it can be difficult to find time to see other people.  But, it’s important to keep a social life. Laughter connects us with others. A good laugh reduces stress and tension and takes our focus away from negative feeling, such as anger and guilt.  It’s healthier to laugh with friends and co-workers about life’s frustrations, rather than complaining about them.  Laughter is contagious.

Most importantly, remember:

Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century.

–  Dame Edna

*Do Children Laugh Much More than Adults?  Rod A. Martin. Downloaded on May 13, 2010 from

©Circadian Age, Inc.˜Working Nights”

Posted 8 years, 1 month ago.

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How Do You React to Stress?

Work can be hugely stressful. In fact, twenty-five percent of Americans say that their job is their greatest contributor to the angst in their lives.  And, clearly there are other stresses too.  Pressure, anxiety, and tension can result in headaches, sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, short tempers, upset stomachs, low morale, and general life dissatisfaction.  Shift workers can experience extra stress as a result of working variable hours, getting less sleep, having little access to family members and friends, leading to increased isolation and lack of support.

Stress can be reduced though, and here are some ideas to help. Continue Reading…

Posted 8 years, 2 months ago.

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Restorative Sleep Improves Memory and Creativity

Johah Lehrer has written a terrific summary pointing to what we gain and what we lose when we don’t get enough sleep.  Watching his wife sleep comfortably and soundly, while he lies awake with insomnia, Lehrer reviews the literature, touching on how the brain replays our own experiences over and over again, sketching them deeply into the neural networks of our brains. This cements our long term memories. Lehrer also points out that REM sleep helps make us more creative and lets us integrate new information into our problem solving.

To read the entire article, click here

Jonah Lehrer is a contributing editor at Wired Magazine. He’s the author of  How We Decide and Proust Was A Neuroscientist and blogs at The Frontal Cortex.

Posted 8 years, 3 months ago.

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Feeling Grouchy and Touchy? Read This!

We learn from a very young age that when we don’t get enough sleep, we get cranky.  Since shift workers only get 5-6 hours of sleep on average, many feel grouchy, irritable, and touchy a lot of the time.  Bad-tempers can be difficult to hold inside, and when fury is released onto spouses, partners, kids, work associates, and managers, it can become toxic.  What’s the result?  Blowing your top can cause you to be fired and it can result in divorce.  Being argumentative and disagreeable doesn’t usually get a positive response.  Lack of sleep starts a progression down a slippery slope often ending with frustration and rage.  Remember those terrible-twos’ temper tantrums?  Now we’re talking adult sized anger!

Melinda Beck, Editor of the Wall Street Journal Health Journal interviewed psychologist Pauline Wallin, author of Taming Your Inner Brat.  In the interview, Dr. Wallin provides a few concrete ideas about how to manage anger.  She suggests that when you feel angry, you should slow down and talk sense to yourself.  Don’t react quickly to what’s going on around you, take time and think about it.  One good suggestion by Dr. Wallin is to imagine that you wake up in the morning with $1 worth of energy for the day.  Then, as the day progresses and issues come up, if you feel yourself getting frustrated and angry, think about whether you want to give 80 cents of your energy to that situation or just 5 cents.  Most likely you,ll decide not to waste your energy on negative, small issues.

To listen to the interview, Demand for Anger -Management Grows. But Does It Work –

Posted 8 years, 3 months ago.

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New Study Supports Claims that Oatmeal is Good for Shift Workers!

Numerous studies have indicated that sleep is essential for normal immune system functioning and to maintain the body’s ability to fight off disease and sickness. Most shift workers exist in sleep deprived states as a result of only getting 5-6 hours of sleep per 24-hour period.  So, as a result, it’s likely that shift workers’ immune systems are compromised, contributing to more cases of the common cold and flu, but also to chronic health issues many shift workers face, for example, diabetes and heart disease.

At Working Nights, we’re always looking for new solutions to improve shift worker health and wellbeing.  Here’s a new idea…

Continue Reading…

Posted 8 years, 3 months ago.

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Teach Children about Working Nights and Learn Something New Yourself Too!

Just Released — Children’s Book from Working Nights!

Why Does my Mom or Dad Sleep all Day – When Parents Work Shift Work

Click here to order! Only $12.95

Help children understand the differences that exist in families when parents work extended hours.  Topics covered include why it’s important to get enough sleep, eating balanced meals, and carving out time for fun and recreation, including family time.

This is a great book for parents or grandparents to purchase for the  children in their lives  It’s also good for schools and libraries! Modelled after the Working Nights Calendar, the book includes eye-catching illustrations and easy to understand text aimed at 4 to 8-year-olds.  Questions designed to engage children in a meaningful discussion about how their lives and others are impacted when parents work shift work are included at the end.

Soft cover, 25 pages, easy to read 8.5″ x 11″ size. $12.95.  To order click here.

Posted 8 years, 5 months ago.

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Like Crossword Puzzles? Try Out this Working Nights Puzzle for Shift Workers!

Use the Working Nights crossword puzzle as a training tool or just try and complete it for fun!  The puzzle contains 60+ words, each one important to shift workers and employers of shift work operations.  Use this tool to relax on a recovery day or do it with your spouse, partner, parent, or child to increase their education of what it’s like to work shift work!

For the interactive version (complete on-line) – click here

For the printable version – click here

For the answer set – click here

Have Fun – Any questions? Post a comment below!

Posted 8 years, 5 months ago.

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This Emotional Life – Following up on “Stumbling on Happiness”

Daniel Gilbert, professor at Harvard and best selling author of “Stumbling on Happiness,” hosts this PBS show, This Emotional Life, starting Monday, January 4th.  The show will explore ways to improve social relationships, cope with emotional issues, and become more positive and resilient as individuals.

Many people from all walks of life are profiled, including every day moms, dads, and workers, and famous people like Katie Couric and Richard Gere.  If you have to work when the show is aired, you can  either tape it at home, or purchase the series at

In Stumbling on Happiness, Gilbert shares with us facts about the way our mind works.  Gilbert, a Harvard University Psychology professor, is particularily interested in the shortcomings of our imaginations.  He says we’re much too accepting of the conclusions of our imaginations.  He notes that our imaginations are really bad at telling us how we will think when the future finally comes. And our personal experiences aren’t nearly as good at correcting these errors as we thing they are.

Watch the TV preview right here!



Dan Shapiro PBS Trailer

Posted 8 years, 5 months ago.

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New Research Proves “ You are what you eat“ More than Ever!

Australian researchers overseeing a study published last month in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that eating more carbohydrates than fat and protein increases serotonin production in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical that has been linked with improved mood and mental health. Shift workers have been found to have lower levels of serotonin than daytime employees. Does this mean that people working the night shift should run out and stock up on potatoes, beans, rice, pasta, and bread? YES

In the study, half of the participants spent a year following a diet low in fat and high in carbohydrates. The other half went on a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. The participants in both groups lost 30 pounds on average and generally said they felt happier after two months on the diet. But after continuing to diet for a year, the people who ate less fat (butter, steak, pork, veal) and more carbs (pasta and potatoes) reported feeling happier and less depressed and anxious than they had before. The other group, who ate more fat and fewer carbohydrates, felt that their moods were worse than they’d been before.

The book, The Serotonin Power Diet,by Judith J. Wurtman, PhD and Nina T. Fruszajer, MD, published in December of 2006 beat the Australians to the punch line. tThe book’s authors state on the home page of their website that our brains make serotonin when you eat foods such as pretzels, pasta, rice, and potatoes – in the right amounts, at the right times of the day, and without protein. And they also say that serotonin curbs your appetite, restores mental energy, and soothes emotional stress. The authors recommend that 30-60 minutes before your next meal, munch on a serotonin soothing snack: pretzels, cheerios, popcorn, or cherry licorice bites. Notice how it takes the edge off your appetite and energizes you.

Buy the Serotonin Power Diet on To read more about serotonin and shift work read our previous blog posting.

Posted 8 years, 6 months ago.

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WSJ Covers Heart Risk at Work and Seasonal Affective Disorder

There were two articles in the Wall Street Journal today that are significant to shift workers. One story is about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and the other’s about a new study reporting that men who didn’t confront colleagues or bosses who treated them unfairly doubled their risk of heart attack.

Seasonal Affective Disorder: the article states that SAD affects an estimated 6% of Americans, causing depression, lethargy, irritability and a desire to avoid social situations. It can also create an urge to overeat, particularly carbohydrates. As many as 15% of people in the U.S. may have a milder version that includes only some of these symptoms. What the article leaves out, that all shift workers know, is that SAD symptoms are routinely felt by workers at jobs outside the normal day-time hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. See more about this in our articles on Vitamin D and Serotonin.

Reducing Heart Risk with Confrontation: the lead researcher from Stockholm University and her research partners asked 2,755 men how they typically responded to unfair treatment at work. Those who said they just let it pass and said/did nothing had significantly more heart attacks during the next ten years. After adjusting for age, socio-economic factors, risk behaviors, job strain, and biological risk factors, the risk of heart and death from a cardiovascular event was 2.3 times greater than it was for those who said they confronted those treating them unfairly. Read more about how shift workers can manage stress on the job and about controlling bullying at work.

To read the two Wall Street Journal articles:

Seasonal Affective Disorder
Reducing Heart Risk with Confrontation

©2009Circadian Age, Inc.˜Working Nights”

Posted 8 years, 6 months ago.

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Happy Thanksgiving from Working Nights – an Idea for Getting Through Dinner!

Holiday dinners with family can be easily ruined. A political debate might erupt at the table over health care reform, Obama’s job rating, or how people feel about Sarah Palin. Perhaps a new husband or wife isn’t liked, so half the table ignores them while the other goes overboard to make them feel comfortable. Some people actually have the nerve to state that they don’t like the food, right in front of the chef. Maybe someone has dietary issues so the ingredients of every dish have to be reviewed before they take a bite. How about the nurse or firefighter who worked the entire night before and can’t stay awake at the table or has a short fuse as a result of being tired? There might be sadness over a recent death or heartbreak from missing someone who’s overseas with the military. What about those screaming kids banging their silverware on the crystal stemware or china plates? Sometimes you wish you’d stayed home.

Here’s a new holiday dinner sanity idea.
Continue Reading…

Posted 8 years, 6 months ago.

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Differences Between Men and Women at Work – We Need Both Sexes!

Women continue to be a significant force in the workplace; the numbers of working women are gaining on working men. The Bureau of Labor statistics reported this June that women held 49.8% of the U.S jobs. Here are some trends:

1. Women have been gaining the vast majority of positions in the few sectors of the economy that are growing (health care, education, and government).

2. Through June, men had lost 74% of the 6.4 million jobs eliminated since the recession began in December 2007. Men have lost more than 3 million jobs in construction and manufacturing alone.

3. The gender hiring trend is really extreme in local government’s 14.6 million-person workforce. Cities, schools, water authorities and other local jurisdictions have cut 86,000 men during the recession – while adding 167,000 women.

4. As a result, at the end of October the jobless rate for women was 8.1% compared to 10.7% for men.

What do these trends mean for men?
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Posted 8 years, 7 months ago.

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Shift Work and Divorce – Does the Work Schedule Really Make a Difference?

Divorce.  It’s not a fun topic for anyone.

By now most of us have read that we’re better off if we’re married.  According to the Center for Disease Control, married people tend to have lower mortality rates, exhibit less risky behavior, are more likely to monitor their health, comply with necessary medical routines, have sex more often and experience more satisfaction with their sexual lives, save more and earn more.  On a national level, the Census Bureau reports that a shrinking share of Americans are married, only 52% of males and 48% of females were married in 2008. The proportion of Americans who are currently married has been decreasing for decades and is lower than it has been in at least half a century.  The median duration of a marriage in 2008 was 18 years. In 2008, 9% of men were divorced and 12% of women were.

So why don’t we stick with our marriages?  And, is it true that maintaining a marriage is more difficult for shift workers?

Continue Reading…

Posted 8 years, 7 months ago.

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The Connection Between Safety and Teamwork – It’s all about Communication and Taking Workers’ Individual Differences into Account!

Starting as young children, we’re taught about the importance of teamwork.  For example, we might have learned to work together to bring the groceries in from the car, maybe one person brought the bags into the house, another took them into the kitchen, another unpacked them, and someone else put the food away in the cabinets and fridge.  It felt fun working together at something; the experience was certainly more enjoyable than anyone doing the whole job on their own.  And, we could see that this four person exercise accomplished the task in a quarter of the time it would take one person to do the whole thing (if you were lucky enough to have four people to pitch in and help!).

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “No member of a crew is praised for the rugged individuality of his rowing.”

As adults we’re told that teamwork is critical to achieving success in our jobs too.  But, is this really the case?

Continue Reading…

Posted 8 years, 7 months ago.

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