Working Nights

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

The Impact of Ageing on Sleep

It seems like every day we learn more about the importance of a full night of beneficial and restorative sleep; we understand that it impacts every portion of our lives and without it, we are vulnerable to a myriad of diseases and chronic conditions. Yet, for many of us and for many reasons, that type of sleep is so very difficult to come by.

Unfortunately, as we age it becomes even harder. Older adults face a reduction in the quantity and quality of deep sleep, the stage that beneficially overhauls our cardiovascular, immune and metabolic systems and refreshes learning and memory abilities. Beginning in our 30s, each decade represents a significant decline in the restorative deep sleep we experienced when young.

In addition, our sleep also becomes more fragmented; we wake up more during the night, perhaps because of a weakened bladder or aches and pains.

Scientists also have determined that the circadian rhythms (the body’s internal wake/sleep clock) of older people change, resulting in our bodies calling for earlier bedtimes and earlier risings which can disrupt our sleep cycles.

Ageing in general can cause a deterioration in our health, but we are learning that the deterioration of our sleep may be more in play than we previously thought. As we age, we should continue to pay attention to our sleep patterns and discuss them with our doctors. There are steps that can and should be taken to improve and maintain a better night’s sleep….learn about them

Posted 1 year, 9 months ago at 1:12 pm.

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Coffee Update

An influential of panel of experts gathered by the World Health Organization (WHO) have concluded that drinking coffee regularly could protect against two different types of cancer, uterine and liver, although it is not clear why. As recently as 1991, researchers described coffee as ‘possibly carcinogenic’ with links to some cancers. But since then a large body of research has portrayed coffee (for those who drink it regularly) as a surprising elixir, finding lower rates of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, neurological disorders and several cancers.

This is very good news since it is estimated that 64 percent of Americans drink at least one cup of coffee per day. Last year a panel of scientists working on the government’s 2015 dietary guidelines said there was “strong evidence” that three to five cups of coffee daily were not harmful and might reduce chronic disease.

A note of caution…the WHO’s cancer agency has announced that drinking extremely hot (150 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, really too hot to drink) coffee or tea may promote esophageal cancer, so do wait a few minutes before taking that first sip.

So go ahead and enjoy that cup or cups of coffee…..

Posted 3 years ago at 11:21 am.

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Are You Sitting Too Much?

In recent years there have been numerous articles written about the physical toll of being sedentary. Excessive sitting is associated with 34 chronic diseases and conditions! Studies show that sitting too much has been linked to cardiovascular events like heart attack, heart disease death, overall death and death from cancer. It has also been associated with high blood pressure, obesity, bad cholesterol and too much belly fat.

Dr. David Alter, the senior scientist of a new study on sitting at the University Health Network (UHN) in Toronto said, “More than one-half of an average person’s days is spent being sedentary — sitting, watching television or working at a computer.” Studies have reported that people who sit for long periods were 24 percent more likely to die from health problems during the studies, which lasted between 1 and 16 years, compared to those who sat less.

And now the results of a new study in Australia indicate there is yet one more reason to get up from your chair….in addition to the physical impacts, there is evidence that there is a link between too much sitting and emotional stress; that is the more sedentary a person was, the more likely he or she was to feel anxious. Only nine studies have so far examined this link, so additional research is needed.

However, ultimately, the bottom line is sitting for a long period of time is bad for you, even if you are active and exercise regularly. Knowing this, make a point of getting up every hour or so….grab a drink, walk over to a co-worker’s desk, choose to stand more when you have a choice…it is worth it!

Posted 3 years, 11 months ago at 10:18 am.

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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, 2 months ago at 9:37 am.

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Caffeine Update: Grab Another Cup of Coffee!

There is more good news for shift workers who rely on caffeine to keep alert while working their unique hours.  A panel of experts submitted an advisory report to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services. This report will help shape the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for America which are the official government dietary guidelines due out later this year. In it they advised that up to 5 cups (8 oz cup) of coffee or 400 milligrams of caffeine can be consumed daily without any detrimental effect. This is the first time that caffeine has been mentioned in the report which is submitted every five years.

The advisory committee noted that in addition to not being associated with health risks, there is evidence of health benefits such as reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. However, they warned that children and pregnant women should limit their caffeine intake and that caffeine should not be mixed with alcohol. Also, remember that caffeine can disturb your sleep, so drink that last cup at least 6 hours before going to bed.

Posted 4 years, 4 months ago at 11:25 am.

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Take a breath and relax….

So begins an article by Sumathi Reddy published in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week. How many times have you been given or have you given that advice over the years? Did you know that behind that simple phrase is a complex series of psychological processes that calm the body, help control pain and slow the heart? According to doctors and psychologists, breathing and controlling your breath is one of the easiest ways to improve mental and physical health, without medication and equipment!

By training themselves to breathe more slowly and properly, shift workers may be able to achieve long term health benefits. Go to the Wall Street Journal to learn more…..

Posted 4 years, 5 months ago at 11:54 am.

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Drink That Coffee!

Last year Working Nights published a blog post, the Benefits of Coffee. It described the results of studies where scientists linked coffee drinking to a reduction in the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, prostate cancer, oral cancer, the most common skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma) and breast cancer recurrence, in addition to having a role in preventing dementia.

Now there is even more good news for coffee drinkers!  A new study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistryreports that a daily cup or two of coffee may help prevent deteriorating eyesight and possible blindness from retinal degeneration due to glaucoma, aging and diabetes. Maybe there is a reason why coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world?

Read more about this study….

Posted 5 years, 2 months ago at 10:33 am.

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The Benefits of Green Tea

Green tea may prove to be the solution to a number of the health issues faced by many people, especially shift workers.  Thousands of studies over the last 20 years have described its benefits. Dr. Christopher Ochner, a research scientist in nutrition at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, says “Green tea is beyond a super food.”  This is because it contains an abundance of catechins which are antioxidants that fight and may even prevent cell damage.

Drinking green tea helps the heart and brain, keeps blood sugar stable (diabetes), reduces stress and can increase and even change your metabolism to aid in weight loss. Wow! To learn more and to read the entire article, go to WebMD

Posted 5 years, 5 months ago at 10:30 am.

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One More Reason to Eat a Balanced Healthy Diet!

As though there aren’t enough reasons to eat a healthy balanced diet, researchers have come up with one more-Vitamin B6.  A study just published in the Journal of Nutrition shows a strong association between chronic inflammation and Vitamin B6; those people with the highest levels of B6 in their blood had the lowest levels of chronic inflammation and those with the lowest levels of B6 had the highest levels of chronic inflammation.

Normally, temporary inflammation,  such as redness or swelling after an injury, is part of a healthy immune system. However, chronic inflammation is a much different and serious story. It occurs when the immune system does not shut off, which causes immune cells to interfere with the body’s healthy tissues. This can cause heart disease, diabetes and stroke, among other chronic diseases. Some of these are conditions that shift workers already have at a higher rate than day workers.  Even scarier, most people don’t know they have chronic inflammation since there is not a reliable blood test to screen for it.

The findings from this study give researchers a better idea of what is going on in the body regarding this inflammation. Other studies are now being conducted to determine the exact role of Vitamin B6; at this time experts are not recommending supplements. However, they do recommend including foods in your diet that contain B6 as there are numerous other benefits of this vitamin. B6 is present in chicken breasts, fish, hamburger, legumes, pinto beans and vegetables like red peppers and potatoes. Shift workers should try to include these foods in their daily diet. They are all foods which provide numerous health benefits. Enjoy!

Posted 7 years, 1 month ago at 11:54 am.

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Family History and Your Heart

Coronary heart disease is the result of plaque buildup in the arteries, which blocks blood flow and heightens the risk for heart attack and stroke. It accounts for 1 in 6 deaths in the United States.
Currently, the Framingham Risk Score is the most widely used method for measuring heart risk. It takes into account general information, such as blood pressure, cholesterol level and basic knowledge about whether a family member had a history of heart disease. Based on the results, a decision is made as to who may be at high risk.
However, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal reports that a new study shows that detailed family information could help doctors better predict who is at high risk for heart disease. Dr. Donna Arnett, a genetic epidemiologist and president-elect of the American Heart Association, says that, “Family history remains one of the most important predictors of an event for an individual. But most of the family history that we’re collecting is just the presence or the absence of heart disease, not the age of onset or the type of disease.”
Another risk-measurement tool, the Reynolds Risk Score, does consider if a patient’s parent had a heart attack and at what age. This tool has been available since 2007 but is not yet widely used. Gathering the additional information does take more time and often, the patient is not aware of his family health history.
So the next time you are at a family gathering, ask some questions about the health histories of your parents, grandparents and siblings. Find out if they had heart disease, a heart attack and at what age. The more information you have, the easier it will be for your doctor to make a diagnosis. It could save your life!

Posted 7 years, 4 months ago at 8:38 am.

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More Reasons To Get Up And Go!

Many of us are aware of the advantages of physical activity ..and we also know how hard it can be to fit it into our already busy days (and nights)! However, researchers are discovering even more reasons why we should get up and go!

How about a better night’s sleep? The current national guidelines for recommended physical activity are 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise. These guidelines were originally established to improve and maintain cardiovascular health. However, studies are showing that these guidelines have a spillover to other areas of health.
Brad Cardinal, an author of a study published recently in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity, stated, “Increasingly, the scientific evidence is encouraging as regular physical activity may serve as a non-pharmaceutical alternative to improve sleep.” This is significant for shift workers as they regularly get less sleep than day workers, and often have difficulty falling asleep. The study shows a 65% improvement in sleep quality for those participants who were more active. Those people were also less sleepy during the day which means increased productivity on the job.

How about feeling more excited and enthusiastic? Researchers at Penn State asked study participants to daily record their physical activity (if greater than 15 minutes), their mental states and their sleep quantity and quality. They discovered that people who were physically active had more pleasant activated feelings. Also, on days when people were more physically active than usual, they reported feelings of excitement and enthusiasm.
So, while we might feel like we are too tired to exercise, if we take that first step, we are on our way. One day of exercise can lead to the next and to the next….let’s give it a try!

Posted 7 years, 4 months ago at 2:37 pm.

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New Research Shift Workers Should Be Aware of…….

Read on if you are interested in identifying whether you might have heart disease, learn about a possible new way to treat sleep apnea, or hear more about sleep disorders…….
Read this article…

Posted 7 years, 10 months ago at 7:41 pm.

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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.
Read this article…

Posted 7 years, 10 months ago at 8:16 pm.

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IS SNORING…….

……keeping you or your partner awake night after night? We often joke and laugh about snoring but it can be a serious matter, especially for shift workers as they already get less sleep than daytime workers. Almost one half of the adult population snores at least occasionally, resulting in many sleepless nights for many people.

Snoring occurs when air flows over relaxed tissues in your throat causing the tissues to vibrate as you breathe; this creates those annoying sounds. The tissues may obstruct your airway making it narrower, so the airflow becomes more forceful and the snoring becomes louder. While snoring itself is not a health problem, it may indicate a more serious health condition, such as sleep apnea where your airways are so obstructed that you stop or nearly stop breathing as you sleep.

There are risk factors that may contribute to snoring. Some of them are:

  • Being a man
  • Being overweight
  • Alcohol consumption close to bedtime
  • Nasal problems
  • Having a narrow airway

 

If you do suffer from plain old snoring, most doctors recommend making some lifestyle changes such as losing weight, reducing your consumption of alcohol near bedtime and sleeping on your side. These are all low cost or free. There are plenty of products (throat exercises, special pillows, mouth and nose devices) out there that do promise to eliminate snoring but their results have not yet been proven. If lifestyle changes do not help, doctors often recommend the mask or CPAP, oral appliances or surgery. Most insurance plans will not cover treatments for regular snoring, but will cover them if you are diagnosed with sleep apnea.

Do see a doctor if your snoring is disrupting your or anyone’s sleep or if you wake up gasping for air. A good night’s or day’s rest is essential to a happy and healthy you!

Posted 8 years, 2 months ago at 9:53 am.

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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. Read this article…

Posted 8 years, 6 months ago at 6:02 pm.

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