Working Nights

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

Feeling Stressed?

Feeling stressed? Don’t let it get the best of you! Here are some tips from WEBMD for some quick stress relief:

Chew gum

Get outside

Smile

Sniff lavender

Listen to music

Focus on breathing

Be kind to yourself

Jot down your thoughts and feelings

Talk to a friend

Get moving

Posted 2 years, 2 months ago at 2:43 pm.

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The News Keeps Getting Better for Coffee Drinkers…..

…. many of whom are shift workers depending upon its caffeine to keep them alert and awake. As we mentioned in our blog a few months ago, a panel of experts submitted an advisory report about caffeine to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services indicating that, in addition to not being associated with health risks, there is evidence of health benefits.

An article published in the New York Times on May 11, 2015 further corroborates those findings. In it, Aaron E. Carroll, a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, details the numerous studies which have been and continue to be conducted on coffee. Ultimately, he reports that the benefits of drinking coffee far outnumber the risks. Results show coffee drinkers have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancers, Parkinson’s, diabetes and cognitive decline. However, he does point out that he is talking about black coffee and not the milk and sugar beverages which are so popular now. The benefits of coffee could be negated by the consumption of the additional fats and carbohydrates in those drinks.

Read more about the benefits of coffee in the New York Times…….

Posted 4 years, 3 months ago at 9:37 am.

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Is Laughter the Best Medicine?

Last week on April 14th, International Moment of Laughter Day was celebrated. Never heard of it? It was created by Humorologist Izzy Gesell and its goal is to encourage people to laugh.

You may have heard the saying ‘Laughter is the best medicine’ and thought nothing of it. But in recent years, scientists have discovered it may be true! They report that when we laugh, the brain releases endorphins which help to relieve stress, reduce the sensation of pain and stimulate positive emotions. In addition, laughter increases oxygen to the organs, boosts circulation, helps you to relax and contributes to an overall sense of wellbeing.

One doctor says that laughing may provide the same benefits as a mild workout; as you laugh, move your arms …. your heart rate will increase.

Laughing certainly can’t hurt, so why not give it a try? Look for some ways to get yourself laughing: think of funny things you have seen or heard, buy a CD of your favorite comic and listen as you are driving, watch a funny movie or one of the YouTube videos of babies laughing (hard to resist!). There are many opportunities out there that may make you laugh, so let’s get started…’Have you heard the one about the horse who walked into a bar…..’

Posted 4 years, 4 months ago at 10:07 am.

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Is There a Link between Sleep and Alzheimer’s Disease?

 

Last month we wrote about a new study that described how the brain cleans itself as we sleep by flushing out the toxins accumulated during our waking hours. We noted that the results of this study are of great interest to Alzheimer’s researchers because one of the byproducts that is cleaned out daily is beta-amyloid, clumps of which form plaques found in the brains of AD (Alzheimers Disease) patients.

Sleep patterns have previously been linked to beta-amyloid plaques. Researchers from The John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health have observed that those with AD spend more time awake and have more fragmented sleep patterns than those without the disease. They wanted to determine whether there was a link between beta-amyloid deposits and sleep within community-dwelling older adults.

The test group for their study consisted of 70 adults with an average age of 76; none of the participants had any form of dementia. They were asked to record their sleep patterns which included the duration of sleep and any trouble falling or staying asleep. Various brain imaging techniques were used to measure the beta-amyloid deposition in their brains.

The researchers report that the results of this study were consistent with those from animal research in which sleep deprivation increased interstitial fluid beta-amyloid levels. They note that this could have a tremendous impact on public health as AD is the most common form of dementia and almost half of older adults with the disorder report insomnia based symptoms. They say that “because late-life sleep disturbance can be treated, interventions to improve sleep or maintain healthy sleep among older adults may help prevent or slow AD to the extent that poor sleep promotes AD onset and progression.

The emotional, financial and logistical costs of AD are significant and will only increase as our population ages and more people are diagnosed. Further testing and research regarding sleep and its connection to AD continue to be conducted. The Cure Alzheimer’s Fund of Wellesley Hills, MA, dedicated to ending Alzheimer’s Disease, is currently funding a proposal on this subject.

Posted 5 years, 9 months ago at 2:46 pm.

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Is a seaweed flake the new potato chip?

This is the question asked in a recent article published in the Wall Street Journal. More people are snacking than ever before while, at the same time, more people want to eat better. Is it possible to munch on snack foods and be healthy? Many companies are hoping it is; they are creating new snacks by removing trans and saturated fats and artificial and synthetic ingredients, and incorporating ingredients like seaweed, black beans and brown rice.

Of course, this is good news for all of us, especially for shift workers who usually snack often over the course of their work shift. However, these healthier snacks do not come with an ˜all-you-can-eat” tag. Many have the same calories and sodium content as other snack foods, as well as a limited serving size. To learn more about these new snacks and how they can fit into your diet, read the article in the Wall Street Journal.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304713704579093522665924440.html?mod=e2fb

Posted 5 years, 10 months ago at 11:16 am.

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Fun in the Sun

Ahhh ……the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer….. blue skies, hot sun! As we spend more time outside playing, exercising and working we must keep in mind how dangerous the heat can be if precautions are not taken.

Dehydration and heat exhaustion are two conditions that can occur in hot weather, often without us even realizing it. When dehydrated, our body is not able to produce enough sweat which is needed to reduce our internal body temperature and move the heat out. If sweat is not being made, our body’s core temperature rises which could result in heat exhaustion or heat stroke-two very serious conditions. Symptoms of dehydration may be dizziness, dry mouth, decreased sweating and dark urine.

Once our body is overheated, heat exhaustion can happen. We could experience fatigue, nausea, headache, vomiting and cold clammy skin with excessive sweating. If left untreated, this could lead to heat stroke which is considered to be a life threatening condition.

The good news is that these conditions can be prevented and we can enjoy being outside! Here are some guidelines to follow to ensure healthy and safe outdoor living:

  • Stay hydrated; drink every 20-30 minutes. If working or exercising excessively, try sports drinks.
  • Use sunscreen.
  • If possible, avoid the middle part of the day when the sun is the strongest.
  • Dress appropriately in light weight and light colored clothes; also, wear a hat.

 

Posted 6 years ago at 1:20 pm.

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Ladies and Gentlemen, Pick Up Your Brooms!

Looking for a way to increase your physical activity and fit the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week into your already full day? Start cleaning! As health experts look at the continued weight gain of people in North America, they have blamed fast food and sugary drinks. However, a recent study reports that one reason for the gain could be that we are doing half the housework than we did in the past.

The researchers report that currently 13 hours per week are spent doing housework, about half of what was done in 1965. They have calculated that 360 fewer calories are burned each day because of the decline in housework. This is the equivalent of 30 minutes of running or an hour long aerobics class seven days a week. Wow!

So pick up your broom, scrub that floor, wash your dishes, pick up the clutter, clean out that closet – get up and move! You will feel better, live longer, get in shape and have the cleanest house on the block!

Posted 6 years, 5 months ago at 1:16 pm.

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An Apple A Day May…

keep the fat away (as well as the doctor)! A study in Plos One suggests that eating unpeeled apples may keep extra pounds and obesity related diseases at bay.

The study, conducted at the University of Iowa, found that a compound in apple skins, ursolic acid, helped mice increase their muscle mass and develop more calorie burning brown fat, even while eating a high fat diet. These two tissues are recognized for their calorie-burning properties. Besides helping the mice shed weight, ursolic acid also helped keep pre-diabetes and fatty liver disease from forming.

Mice eating the same diet without the compound did not show these results.

The researchers used a low concentration of ursolic acid, equivalent to eating one or two apples each day, to conduct their study. This is very good news for shift workers whose eating habits are altered when working shifts, causing them to gain more weight and eat less healthy than the general population. An apple is a simple, easy and powerhouse snack to bring to work each day. Who would think that something so small could help us so much?

Posted 7 years, 1 month ago at 10:10 am.

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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 7 years, 2 months ago at 1:01 pm.

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Insomniacs with Nighttime Awakenings Have a Huge Impact on Health Care Costs and Workforce Management

Did you know that 30-40% of adults report some symptoms of insomnia within any given year?  But that’s nothing…according to the National Sleep Foundation, over 60% of people who work shifts report that they suffer from insomnia.  And, 30% of shift workers claim that they’re excessively tired all the time.  People who work shifts are twice as likely to fall asleep at the wheel as those working during the day-time.  Read this article…

Posted 9 years, 4 months ago at 2:41 pm.

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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?

Read this article…

Posted 9 years, 9 months ago at 8:20 pm.

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