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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-two’s 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 – WSJ.com.
Posted 3 years, 9 months ago. Add a comment
Numerous studies have indicated that sleep is essential for normal immune system functioning and to maintain the bodies’ 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…..
Posted 3 years, 9 months ago. Add a comment
Just Released — A 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 3 years, 11 months ago. Add a comment
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 3 years, 11 months ago. Add a comment
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 http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=3914596.
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 3 years, 11 months ago. Add a comment
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. The book’s authors state on the home page of their website, “Our brains makes 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 Amazon.com. To read more about serotonin and shift work read our previous blog posting.
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”
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.
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:
• Women have been gaining the vast majority of positions in the few sectors of the economy that are growing (health care, education, and government).
• 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.
• 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.
• 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?
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?
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?
Posted 4 years, 1 month ago. 1 comment
Long nights, little sleep, changing shifts- the collision of stress and exhaustion can cause other types of collisions for shift workers, such as collisions between cars with tired drivers, collisions in the arteries that cause heart attacks and strokes, and a whole host of other worries. Night work and shift jobs cause a huge variety of health problems for shift workers, problems that can rip chunks out of struggling checking accounts. Rising health care costs become a concern for managers, who have to shoulder a good deal of the cost with insurance, and for workers, who not only have to deal with their illness or injury but with the stress of paying for it. No one wants to choose between their salary and their health, or their job and their life. Management needs to spend money efficiently to keep everyone going strong. Zeroing in on extended hours workers will provide an employer more bang for their health care buck. Continue Reading…
Posted 4 years, 9 months ago. 3 comments
Besides general health risks, shift workers also face a wide range of faster-acting dangers. Every seven seconds another worker gets injured, and every day, machinery accidents, falls, crashes, and other accidents take lives. Older workers and minority workers face higher injury and fatality rates. Read here the startling facts about on-the-job death and injury, the financial and health costs, the facts of why accidents happen and tips for making work a safer place. Continue Reading…
Posted 4 years, 9 months ago. 1 comment