In the past, sleep experts had warned us about exercising too close to bed time. They said “excitement” hormones such as adrenaline, which rise during exercise to give us energy and take about three hours to fall back to normal levels, would interfere with a good night’s sleep.
However, recent studies show this is not the case! These studies indicate that the timing of your exercise has no impact on your quality or quantity of sleep. This research is backed by a survey released by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) which makes the case for exercising to improve sleep, regardless of the time of day or night. The survey polled vigorous exercisers who, whether exercising first thing in the morning or right before bed, were twice as likely as sedentary people to report they had a good night’s sleep every night or almost every night the week before. Therefore, the NSF has amended its recommendation for normal sleepers to encourage exercise at any time of day or night.
This is wonderful news for shift workers who often find it difficult to get to sleep and to fit exercise into their schedule. To learn more about this new information, go to the National Sleep Foundation’s website….
Posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago at 9:27 am. Add a comment
The number of people, both young and old, who are trying to successfully balance their work and home lives is increasing every day. Julie McCarthy, an associate professor of organizational behavior at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC), asks us to look at the roles we play and ask if they are working for us. She was curious to learn what strategies were being used to deal with the opposing demands on time, attention and energy that so many of us face.
She conducted a study which looked at how undergraduate students with jobs handled these demands. She looked at the three strategies most commonly used by people to deal with this: solution driven active engagement (problem focused), venting to others (emotion focused), and ignoring the problems altogether and distracting themselves with other activities (avoidance focused).
Traditionally, it is thought that the first method, problem focused, is the best of the three. However, Professor McCarthy’s results indicated that strategy can actually cause more problems, as a result of stress, over exhaustion and lack of recovery time. Dealing with all the issues at once can be draining and can lead to burnout, depression and poor health. People need downtime in order to refocus and get rejuvenated.
Much to the surprise of the researchers, the third coping mechanism, avoidance, proved to be the one that provided the most balance. By putting the problems aside and not thinking about them for a while, the participants were able to put all their energy and focus into another issue. Professor McCarthy concludes that “…. maybe by backing off and taking breaks, students are able to replenish their resources.”
So step back, look at the roles you play and how you are handling them. If you are not satisfied with the results, try a different strategy-you may be surprised!
Posted 1 year, 1 month ago at 2:24 pm. Add a comment
We’ve written extensively about the challenges many shift workers face as a result of not getting enough sleep. A few new studies provide more insight for those with sleep challenges. Read this article…
Posted 1 year, 5 months ago at 8:25 pm. Add a comment
Baked World, a company based in Memphis, TN markets a brownie called Lazy Larry, but BEWARE-these are not your mother’s brownies! They are filled with melatonin, a naturally occurring compound often used to treat sleep disorders. As a result, the Food and Drug Administration has sent Baked World a warning letter ordering them to stop marketing Laxy Larry as simply a “brownie”. Dr. Lloyd Sederer reports in the Huffington Post that the misuse of melatonin can result in numerous side effects and serious consequences. To learn more about these brownies, click here.
Posted 1 year, 9 months ago at 3:38 pm. Add a comment
Our contact with shift workers indicates that they tend to spend a lot of time alone. The schedules shift workers are on are often not conducive to a lot of togetherness with family and friends. We often write about the need for shift workers to stay in touch and find time for recreation with others. Recently there have been several studies about the importance of time spent alone. Solitude has been linked with creativity, spirituality, and intellectual insight for decades. Now studies are showing that we remember things better when we are alone. Taking time for self-reflection is a good thing; being surrounded by others can hamper a person’s efforts to figure out what he or she really thinks of something. Perhaps shift workers’ time alone allows them time to know themselves more truly than other do.
Read this article…
Posted 2 years, 2 months ago at 12:26 pm. Add a comment
Sleep plays a crucial role in the development of memories….but lack of sleep may actually help you put your bad experiences aside!
Researchers showed healthy volunteers video clips of both safe driving and unexpected motor vehicle accidents. After viewing the clips, half of the volunteers were deprived of sleep while the other half received a normal night’s sleep. Sleep deprivation eliminated the fear-associated memories. The researchers suggest this may be due to the lack of memory consolidation that typically occurs during sleep.
So, if you’re not looking forward to unsettling holiday parties, stressful family events, too much overtime work, or dealing with the loss of a loved one – take it easy. But don’t be too focused on getting extra sleep. A little sleep deprivation may be a good thing. Just make sure you’re rested enough that you’re ready for what you need to do – whether work or play!
Happy Holidays from WorkingNights.
©2010 Circadian Age, Inc. ‘Working Nights’
Posted 2 years, 5 months ago at 11:10 pm. Add a comment
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)
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.
Read this article…
Posted 3 years ago at 10:33 am. Add a comment
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. Read this article…
Posted 3 years, 1 month ago at 1:12 pm. Add a comment
There have been a number of studies done on the importance of recovery days after working shifts. It’s logical….our bodies (and minds) can’t work at odd hours, long days, or rapidly rotating schedules, without being seriously impacted. Now, a few days before Christmas and a week before New Year’s, almost everyone is suffering from depleted energy. But as we continue to push ourselves to persevere, saying, “Just hold on and get through the holidays; it’ll be over soon,” we seek our ways to cope. Often we do this in a robotic-like fashion, not even consciously. We might drink a little too much hoping to calm ourselves down for sleep, pop pain-killers to reduce our aches and pains from all the running around, or skip dinner in favor of Doritos because we’re too tired to cook.
Sound familiar? These are the feelings, vegetative state, and survival tactics most shift workers face on a regular basis, not just around the holidays. If you work shifts, you know.
Back to recovery days……
Read this article…
Posted 3 years, 5 months ago at 10:12 am. Add a comment
Where can you find Coldplay, Betty Buckley, The Beastie Boys, Bruce Hornsby, and Vanessa Carleton all working together? Seems like an unlikely group, doesn’t it?
These musicians and many other creative types are big supporters of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function (IMNF). Created in 1995, IMNF was founded “to restore, maintain and improve people’s physical, emotional and neurologic functioning through the systematic use of music.” IMNF collaborates with researchers and practitioners around the world to advance the understanding and application of the power of music to promote healing and wellness. Some of IMNF’s most significant research and startling findings are in the areas of music and its impact on language, memory, and recovery from nerve injury.
How does music affect shift workers? Should it be listened to at work? Does it help you fall asleep? Can it lower stress when coping with variable schedules?
Read this article…
Posted 3 years, 5 months ago at 9:50 pm. 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.
Posted 3 years, 5 months ago at 9:40 pm. Add a comment
It’s almost Halloween; time for ghosts and goblins, and disappointed kids whose parents have to work. Or maybe you don’t have kids, or yours are grown and out of the house, but you were invited to a Halloween party. Halloween falls on Saturday night this year – a great night for a party! If you didn’t plan ahead to get the night off, it’s probably too late. But, you can still find opportunities to have fun. Here are some great ideas!
Read this article…
Posted 3 years, 7 months ago at 9:05 pm. Add a 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, 8 months ago at 12:45 pm. Add a comment
Stress and anxiety are normal parts of life. Sometimes we all need a little angst to keep us going: to make the best presentation, ace the test, or get the job offer. But over time, the effects of too much tension can be mentally and physically taxing.
Extended periods of stress can cause destructive changes in the body, such as depression or a suppressed immune system, potentially leading to heart disease, stroke, or cancer. Stress and anxiety can be felt physically, appearing as an increased heart rate and high blood pressure, sweating, dry mouth, tight muscles, twitching, abdominal pain, and headaches. Emotional responses to stress may include feeling restless, being unable to concentrate, and talking negatively to yourself.
Shift workers experience unique challenges in their life and jobs that can lead to increased tension. Without proper planning, work/life/family balance can get completely out of synch as a result of working rotating shifts or long hours. As a result of the struggle to adapt to ever changing work schedules, shift workers often don’t get enough sleep.
While most sleep experts suggest seven to eight hours of sleep is needed to feel well-rested, most people don’t get this much, and shift workers get even less than the day time population. The National Institute of Health has reported that people who work at night or have frequent major shifts in their work hours, or who have inactive lifestyles, are at a greater risk of developing insomnia. Many shift workers also report that they don’t exercise frequently, so the problem only gets worse. Read this article…
Posted 3 years, 9 months ago at 6:24 pm. 4 comments
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