Working Nights

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

No More Excuses!

Most of us know the importance of exercise, but still come up with excuses not to do any.  It may be too hot, too cold, too wet or too snowy. You may be too tired, too busy or too stressed. It is not easy to start an exercise regimen; it is even more difficult when working evenings or nights. Yet, the benefits of exercise so outweigh any excuse we may come up with that it is worth a second look and try.

This week WebMD details the 12 Rewards of Exercise. All of the benefits discussed can only make our lives better; how would you like to get a better night’s sleep, have more energy, be more productive and be less stressed? And these are only some of the rewards……

Keep in mind that you don’t have to start running marathons. Find an activity or exercise you are interested in and like; find the time to do it (there is always some time available) and go from there. Who knows…..you may eventually be in that marathon!

Posted 1 month ago at 12:28 pm.

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The Impact of Daylight Saving Time

How are you feeling this week….even more tired than usual?  That may be due to Daylight Saving Time which occurred this past weekend. As we move the clocks forward, we lose an hour of that so very essential and precious sleep. On March 9 the Wall Street Journal published an article examining the side effects and repercussions of that lost hour (that loss has an even greater impact on shift workers!). To learn more, go to the Wall Street Journal……

 

Posted 4 months, 2 weeks ago at 11:39 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 months, 4 weeks 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 6 months ago at 11:54 am.

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The Benefits of Walking with Friends

How do you handle stress? Would you like to improve your emotional and mental health? The findings of a new large scale study conducted by the University of Michigan suggest that taking a walk, getting out in nature and being with friends are the ways to do that! Group nature walks are linked with significantly lower depression, less perceived stress and enhanced mental health and well-being.

Walking is economical, can be done at any time and so many are able to do it….why not give it a try?

Learn more about the study….

Posted 10 months ago at 1:59 pm.

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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 1 year, 5 months ago at 10:30 am.

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Leave Your Stress at Work!

 

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that forthcoming research from the Academy of Management Journal will show that workers reported lower stress levels at the end of their work day/night after spending a few minutes jotting down positive events at the end of their shift, along with why those things made them feel good. Can that simple step really help?

The researchers conducting the study tracked workers over a 15 day period. They logged their blood pressure and stress symptoms such as headaches, fatigue and difficulty concentrating. The researchers then noted the changes when, at the end of their shift, the workers wrote down their accomplishments from that day. Positive thinking eased the tension. Theresa Glomb, a co-author of the report, says that the most significant impact comes from writing down why those things made them feel good. She says that act highlights the resources and support a person has in their work life such as skills, a good sense of humor, an encouraging family or a compassionate boss. And the reflections do not have to be work-related as about 40% of the end of day reflections had nothing to do with work but still made the participants calmer once they went home.

A key point is to not make this activity a mandatory requirement; that could result in creating additional stress instead of reducing it! Why not give it a try?

Posted 1 year, 10 months ago at 12:25 pm.

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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 3 years, 1 month ago at 11:54 am.

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Trying to Achieve Work Life Balance?

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 3 years, 3 months ago at 2:24 pm.

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Seratonin Levels Feed Anger

Many studies have shown that low levels of serotonin are also associated with anger, depression and anxiety. Fluctuations of serotonin levels in the brain, which often occur when someone hasn’t eaten or is feeling stressed, affect brain regions that enable people to regulate anger. So when stressed or hungry, people are often unable to manage their anger. This is especially relevant to shift workers as the stress of working outside regular daytime hours is significant and good eating habits of shift workers are often lacking (self-reported). A new study published September 15, 2011 in the journal Biological Psychiatry has shown that individuals who might be predisposed to aggression were the most sensitive to changes in serotonin depletion.


Do you Learn from your Mistakes?

People who think they will learn from their mistakes have a different brain reaction to mistakes than people who think intelligence is fixed. Jason S. Moser, of Michigan State University, who collaborated on a new study, found that people who think intelligence is malleable say things like, “When the going gets tough, I put in more effort” or “If I make a mistake, I try to learn and figure it out.” On the other hand, people who think that they can’t get smarter will not take opportunities to learn from their mistakes. People who think they can learn from their mistakes did better after making a mistake; they successfully bounced back after an error. Their brains also reacted differently, producing a bigger second signal, the one that says “I see that I’ve made a mistake, so I should pay more attention” Moser says.


Dealing with People on a Power Trip?

Individuals in roles that possess power but lack status have a tendency to engage in activities that demean others. The experiment demonstrated that “individuals in high-power/low-status roles chose more demeaning activities for their partners than did those in any other combination of power and status roles.” It feels bad to be in a low status position and the power that goes with that role gives these workers a way to take action on those negative feelings.
©2011 Circadian Age, Inc. ‘Working Nights’

Posted 3 years, 9 months ago at 9:52 am.

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Want Happy Memories this Holiday Season? Consider Scrimping on Sleep!

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 4 years, 7 months ago at 11:10 pm.

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Next Time Don’t Complain, Tell a Joke Instead!

Almost all serial killers are men. That’s ’cause women like to kill one man slowly over many, many years. (Robert Duchaine)

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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)

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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)Â

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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.

 

Laughter is good for preventing heart disease.  People with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations when compared to people of the same age without heart disease.  In this study, researchers from University of Maryland School of Medicine surveyed 300 people. Half did not suffer from heart disease while half had either suffered a heart attack or undergone coronary artery bypass surgery. The survey questionnaires included multiple-choice questions to see how much or how little people laughed in certain situations, and to measure anger and hostility.  The most significant finding from the study was that people with heart disease responded less humorously to everyday life situations. They generally laughed less, even in positive situations, and they displayed more anger and hostility.

As adults, we laugh about 35 times an hour during conversations with either friends or strangers.* When we laugh, 15 facial muscles contract, stimulating the zygomatic major muscle, causing your upper lip to lift up. The respiratory system is impacted so that air intake occurs irregularly, making you gasp. In extreme circumstances, tear ducts are activated, so that while the mouth is opening and closing and the struggle for oxygen intake continues, the face becomes moist and often red or purple. We may giggle or laugh out loud.

While many of us may laugh at a joke during a good movie or television show, the truth is that most of us laugh as a result of human interaction.  Have less interaction with others?  You’re likely to laugh less…..and this brings us to shift workers.  When working nights and sleeping days, it can be difficult to find time to see other people.  But, it’s important to keep a social life. Laughter connects us with others. A good laugh reduces stress and tension and takes our focus away from negative feeling, such as anger and guilt.  It’s healthier to laugh with friends and co-workers about life’s frustrations, rather than complaining about them.  Laughter is contagious.

Most importantly, remember:

Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century.

–  Dame Edna

*Do Children Laugh Much More than Adults?  Rod A. Martin. Downloaded on May 13, 2010 from http://www.aath.org/articles/art_martin.html.

©Circadian Age, Inc.˜Working Nights”

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

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How Do You React to Stress?

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 5 years, 3 months ago at 1:12 pm.

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This Emotional Life – Following up on “Stumbling on Happiness”

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 5 years, 6 months ago at 3:15 pm.

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Can Music Calm a Shift Worker’s Soul and Improve Sleep as Well?

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 5 years, 7 months ago at 9:50 pm.

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