The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported good news with regard to walking-more Americans are doing it! The percentage of adults who went on a 10 minute walk once a week increased from 56% in 2005 to 62% in 2010. Even better is the fact that this increase was seen across all regions, races and ages.
We are certainly heading in the right direction, but we do have room for improvement. Federal guidelines recommend that adults get 2 ½ hours of moderate (brisk walking) to vigorous (running) exercise each week. It is not always easy to find the time to fit exercise into our routine; it is even more difficult for shift workers.
Walking is one of the most popular and accessible of physical activities since it requires no equipment, can be done anywhere and by people of different athletic abilities. How to start? Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park farther away, walk inside or outside your building when taking a break at work. Small steps can literally translate into lifesaving benefits.
Regular walking can improve your mood, lower blood pressure, help to manage diabetes and cholesterol and keep you trim and fit. Taking short breaks at work will keep you awake and at the top of your game. Give it a try!
Posted 8 months, 2 weeks ago at 10:02 am. Add a comment
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 9 months, 1 week ago at 9:15 am. Add a comment
Sleep! We have all had those times when we are in a hammock or rocking chair and, with it gently swaying, have quickly fallen asleep. It is that same rocking motion that puts our babies to sleep. Researchers have been studying just why the slow swinging makes us go to sleep faster.
A study conducted by the University of Geneva asked 12 adult males with no sleep issues to take 2 45 minute afternoon naps. One nap was on a stationary bed and one on a gently rocking bed (hammock-like). During the naps, their brain activity was monitored.
The results were significant:
• All feel asleep more quickly when rocking
• Most said the nap was more “pleasant” than usual
• Measured brain activity showed an increase in the areas of deeper more restful sleep and more continuous sleep
• All moved more quickly from Stage 1 to Stage 2 sleep which is where more than half of our sleep time is spent
These results are especially important to shift workers as it is very often difficult to fall asleep and to stay asleep. Researchers are now studying the effects of rocking over longer periods of sleep and on those who suffer from insomnia or other sleep issues.
Posted 1 year, 1 month ago at 9:49 am. Add a comment
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) has just released the 1st poll to examine sleep among four ethnic groups in the United States: Asians, Blacks/African Americans, Hispanics and Whites-the 2010 Sleep in America Poll. Although significant differences in the sleep habits and attitudes of each group are revealed, there are also a number of interesting similarities. The poll found that more than three fourths of respondents from each ethnic group agree that poor sleep is associated with health problems. It also showed that each group reports similar experiences missing work or family functions because of fatigue. This is of extreme significance to shift workers who routinely average less sleep than day workers.
The NSF is committed to understanding people’s sleep needs and giving them the tools necessary to get the optimum amount of rest. Read more about the poll and its findings at the NSF’s website…
Posted 3 years, 2 months ago at 11:09 am. 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
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 3 years, 6 months ago at 8:20 pm. 1 comment
Working Night’s President, Betsy Connolly, discussed the positives and challenges of working shift work on The Jordan Rich Show starting at midnight. Callers commented on their strategies of managing shift work lifestyles and asked questions. Ms. Connolly also spoke about how shift workers and their families have used the Working Nights calendars to better manage work/life balance when working shifts for 25 years.
Listen to the tape of the program by clicking here. You’ll be brought to our press release and news section. Search for the blue and red WBZ logo shown above for the posting.
Posted 3 years, 7 months ago at 10:21 am. 2 comments
Most shift workers admit they don’t have the best understanding of nutrition and that they find it challenging to follow good nutritional habits. It makes sense that sticking with good nutritional meals can be difficult when working shifts – most shift workers admit they eat what they can find with the least effort – which is often food from vending machines, 24/7 convenience stores, or fast food restaurants. What doesn’t make sense is that shift workers don’t have better knowledge about their own nutrition. Certainly with education, just as with everyone, shift workers’ nutritional awareness can be exponentially increased.
We often read about nutrition and relate it immediately to the food we eat. We’ve written in other posts about the importance of eating healthy food – see “Be Careful What you Eat When Working Shift Work.” However, liquid sustenance is a significant part of our daily intake as well. When we’re awake, we drink water, juice, soda, coffee, tea, alcoholic beverages, and some of us drink liquid nutritional supplements too. What’s important about the liquids we put in our body? The essential information to know is about hydration and dehydration, calories and caloric content, and how where you live, the job you perform and your overall activity level impacts your body’s need for liquids.
Read this article…
Posted 3 years, 7 months ago at 3:03 pm. 2 comments
We are now on WBZ Radio 1030!
Working Nights on Drowsy Driving
Here’s one of our new Working Nights internet cartoons!
Posted 3 years, 7 months ago at 11:17 am. 6 comments
2010 Working Nights Pocket Calendar 3.5 x 7
In moments of great stress and loss, our immediate tendency is to point the finger and blame those we see as having had the responsibility for predicting, and thereby preventing, the crisis. Most recently, experts responsible for issuing emergency warning alerts have been criticized for their slow response to an 8.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami followed by even more quakes earlier this week in the Samoa Islands region (150 deaths). This was followed by Wednesday’s 7.6 magnitude earthquake in the southern Sumatra region of Indonesia which has reportedly killed at least 700 (and many are still missing – 30,000 homes destroyed). Now emergency workers and aid groups are scrambling 24/7 to respond to the havoc and devastation resulting from these disasters.
It takes you back to 911, Katrina, or the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that killed 150,000 people. People working 24/7, working nights, evenings, and weekends for multiple days in a row! How do we get through these emotionally draining and often physically taxing periods?
Read this article…
Posted 3 years, 7 months ago at 3:13 pm. 1 comment
Our bodies circadian rhythms regulate when we should eat, sleep, and be active. However, when we work shift work we don’t allow our bodies to adhere to these regulations, especially when we are working nights. We run around working, when we should be sleeping and inactive, and we eat at night when our bodies are normally shut down and not focused on digestion. We all know it doesn’t help us to maintain our weight when we eat junk food at night while sitting in front of the television. But what causes the problem? Is it the calories in the junk food? Would it make a difference if we chose to nibble on carrots and celery instead? Or is it because we’re eating late at night? A recent study in the journal Obesity, has found that when we eat may be more of a driver of weight gain than what we eat. This obviously has significant impact for shift workers.
Read this article…
Posted 3 years, 8 months ago at 3:59 pm. 6 comments
After the last recession was over in 2002, overtime spiked at many extended hours operations and so did accidents and injuries on the job. After a recession, managers are usually gun-shy about hiring and for good reason – they want to feel confident that demand is truly back so they don’t generate oversupply. There are starting to be some early signs of improvement in the current economic climate, which means we may see overtime starting to creep up soon. Now’s the time to start planning in order to prevent accidents and injuries resulting from overtime.
Read this article…
Posted 3 years, 8 months ago at 9:06 pm. Add a comment
Many employees with children work nonstandard hours. The relationship between shift work and parent-child interaction has been studied by many. For example, one study found that parents working certain nonstandard shifts, especially those working nights and weekends, were less likely to eat dinner with their children (of course this depended in part on which shift the parents worked). Other studies point that some nonstandard shifts have a positive correlation with whether parents had breakfast with their children.
Read this article…
Posted 3 years, 8 months ago at 6:05 pm. Add a comment
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among those with diabetes. And, according to researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, people with diabetes and low Vitamin D have more than double the risk of cardiovascular disease. One possible reason (according to the study’s authors) – diabetics who are deficient in vitamin D don’t process cholesterol normally, so it builds up in their blood vessels and increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Why is this important to shift workers? Because some studies have shown that shift workers may have a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes and shift workers are also are at a greater risk of having a vitamin D deficiency. This study may provide more support for why shift workers have a greater likelihood of suffering from cardiovascular disease. And, it also sheds some light on a possible way to reduce the risk of heart disease – besides exercise, good nutrition, and maintaining proper weight, make sure you get enough vitamin D.
Read this article…
Posted 3 years, 9 months ago at 4:46 pm. Add a comment
Let’s face it, many people who work shift work only talk about the negative. But for some, it’s the positive aspects that lead the way. There are certain lifestyle benefits that can come from working shifts. For example, some people choose to work shift work for social, financial, or lifestyle reasons. Read this article…
Posted 3 years, 9 months ago at 6:58 pm. 1 comment