We very often write about the impact that sleep (or lack of it) has on every aspect of our lives, especially the lives of shift workers. The results of a new study have been released which might further explain the link between sleep loss and obesity which had been discovered earlier.
The study was presented at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies’ Annual Meeting, SLEEP 2012, in Boston in June. According to its lead author, Stephanie Greer, its goal was to see if specific regions of the brain associated with food processing were disrupted by sleep deprivation. Twenty three healthy adults participated in two sessions using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), one after a normal night’s sleep and the other after a night of sleep deprivation. During both sessions, the participants rated how much they wanted different food items shown to them while they were in the scanner.
The results show that loss of sleep significantly impaired brain activity in the frontal lobe, the region critical for controlling behavior and making complex choices, such as which food to eat. Greer said the study suggests that sleep deprivation prevents higher brain functions, rather than those deeper in the brain structures that react to basic desires. With loss of sleep, the brain fails to integrate all the different signals that help us normally make wise choices about what we should eat.
Therefore when we are sleep deprived, our brain does not gather the information needed to decide the best types of food to eat, healthy relative to how tasty, so we may not be eating right or choosing the right foods. This may help explain the connection between sleep deprivation and obesity.
Posted 10 months, 1 week ago at 9:15 am. Add a comment
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 “push” 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 1 year ago at 1:01 pm. Add a comment
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 2 years, 10 months ago at 4:00 pm. 1 comment
Health care reform is on everyone’s mind. Corporate Wellness Magazine, written for employers, unions, government agencies, consultants and insurance companies, has two health related articles by Working Nights featured in this months magazine. They include:
The Cost of Pharmaceutical Products used by Shift Workers
In 2007 the total U.S. health care bill came to $2.3 trillion—more than we spent that year on food. The United States spent approximately 16 percent of its 2006 gross domestic product on healthcare, up from eight percent in 1975. This article looks at pharmaceutical products and how much we spend on ailments affecting shift workers.
Lowering Stress and Anxiety for Shift Workers
When faced with the anxiety that sometimes accompanies working shift work, many people turn to tobacco, drugs (both pharmaceutical and illegal ones) and alcohol as coping mechanisms. While these substances may bring some calm in the short term, they tend to heighten stress and anxiety over the long term. This article includes valuable tips to help shift workers better manage work/life balance.
Hope you enjoy these featured articles!
©2009 Circadian Age, Inc. – ‘Working Nights”
Posted 3 years, 9 months ago at 12:45 pm. Add a comment
According to the Department of Labor, here is how Labor Day came about and what it means:
“Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”
Today is a sad Labor Day – too many workers are not able to contribute to the health of the country and are instead struggling to keep their own financial heads above water.
Read this article…
Posted 3 years, 9 months ago at 4:20 pm. 1 comment
Life expectancy has been increasing year after year in many countries, including the U.S. However the U.S. ranks 42nd in life expectancy but number one in health care costs per capita. Clearly this has gotten the attention of the Obama administration. Question is whether this significant issue will be solved by focusing more on health care prevention, limiting access to care once chronic health issues are diagnosed, by better managing how diagnoses are determined or by all of these things. Shift workers have unique challenges that need to be managed proactively by workers, employers, insurance companies, and medical practitioners.
Read this article…
Posted 3 years, 10 months ago at 9:22 am. Add a comment
BOSTON, MA (July 27, 2009) — ‘Working Nights’ announces an exciting new calendar contest. The 2010 Working Nights Creative Arts Calendar Contest offers organizations the opportunity to create a custom health and safety calendar incorporating winning illustrations or photographs submitted by company employees and their family members. For the full press release click on the link below:
Full Press Release
Posted 3 years, 10 months ago at 5:27 pm. Add a 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. Read this article…
Posted 4 years, 3 months ago at 5:24 pm. 3 comments
Money’s low, stocks are down, workers and employers on all sides of the board are struggling to make ends meet. In this recession people are counting on their jobs more than ever, yet many companies view layoffs as the quickest way to get out of the red. But by focusing on root causes of money loss, management can make long-term changes to boost the profit of operations. Shift worker absenteeism bleeds company money, and frequent worker turnover requires more basic worker training and more money hunting for replacements. Increased preventative health care and management training would cut down on illness and injury, saving money on health costs and reducing absenteeism, as well as helping workers feel more connected with the company to slow worker turnover. This article focuses on the personal pain of layoffs and alternative ways to cut costs while saving jobs. Read this article…
Posted 4 years, 4 months ago at 10:38 am. Add a comment
Shift work brings more health and safety dangers than normal hours work, and so the rising costs of health care are reaping huge consequences among shift workers. Today, patients pay far more of the medical cost themselves than they did in 1990, when employers took up more of the slack. Coupled with a rapid growth of medical bureaucracy, which shoots up costs, the greater responsibility for their own payments is hurting many shift workers. Health care costs hurt companies, but so do sick or injured workers who come into work because they can’t afford not to, or who miss work more often because they can’t afford better medical care. Health care system reform boosts health and productivity in the workplace. Read this article…
Posted 4 years, 9 months ago at 8:43 pm. Add a comment
Accidents, safety risks, and human error plague shift work at all hours of the day and night. Many managers see these dangers as a necessary evil that rides along with workers on shifts, especially rotating shifts and night shifts. Productivity also sinks as the shifts run into the late night/early morning hours, and extended hours workers take far more time off for illness than normal hours workers. This article shows specific ways that training managers together with shift workers raises productivity, decreases worker absences, and improves worker adaptation to the shift and night work lifestyle. Read this article…
Posted 5 years, 1 month ago at 3:08 pm. 1 comment
Results from a 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey indicate that an estimated 66 percent of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese. The same survey indicates that an estimated 17 percent of children and adolescents ages 2-19 years are overweight.
Read this article…
Posted 5 years, 5 months ago at 7:25 am. Add a comment
As if shift work’s threat of injury, increased rates of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes weren’t enough, as well as the potential for cancer hanging over your head, it turns out shift work can kill you much faster than any of those options. The good news is that taking care for your safety, simply paying attention, and getting enough sleep so drowsiness doesn’t hit you at the wrong time can hugely lower your risks on the job. In fact, the danger that causes the most shift worker fatalities is something that almost every person- day worker, night worker, shift worker, or unemployed- does every day. This danger is simply driving on the highway. Other dangers include working with machinery and robbery and homicide, especially for people coming home after a night shift. Read more to learn about surprising dangers and how to keep yourself safe. Read this article…
Posted 5 years, 8 months ago at 5:52 am. 1 comment