Night shift?? Nightmare!!!!
The mere mention of “Night Shift” conjures up horrific images of a nightmare. Unfortunately, night shifts are a part and parcel of today’s fast life in the working atmosphere – be it Call Centers, BPOs or even software companies, which need people working nights to provide technical expertise/troubleshooting for their clientèle abroad. On the brighter side, people working night shifts take home a heavier pay package.
Night shifts can have a negative impact on a person as they affect sleep patterns, eating habits. In the long run, nightshifts can cause physiological disorders like obesity, gastric problems, diabetes, backache, headache and infertility. Night shifts can also lead to psychological disorders like depression, fatigue, behavioral changes, mood swings, anxiety, frigidity and impotence. Drinking innumerable cups of coffee/tea adds to the problem of sleep irregularities.
The body secretes certain hormones like adrenaline, which it requires, to cope with stressful situations. These hormones are secreted more during the daytime and less during nights, and this is one of the reasons for night shifts taking a toll on a person’s physical and mental well-being. Furthermore, the secretion of an endocrine hormone called melatonin (commonly called “hormone of darkness”) by the pineal gland, which is very vital for the agility and alertness of mind and body, is hampered when one works at night, as darkness is essential for the optimum production of this hormone. The secretion of melatonin is at its highest in the middle of the night and then gradually lessens during the second half of the night. Unfortunately, a night shifter is up and about during these hours and this leads to further hormonal disturbances.
Night shifts basically call for a complete changeover in the biological clock as people working in the nights have to sleep during the daytime – (when their family members and other people are up and about and working) and work at nights (when their family members and the others are cozily snuggled in their warm beds) – a complete opposite in life styles. This necessitates a total change in thinking too, as one has to be alert at night. The job maybe very challenging and stimulating and the person would have to be in top form both physically and mentally to meet the day’s (night’s) challenge.
One needs to condition one’s mind to prepare for and accept the physiological changes that occur both in the body and mind when they accept a night shift job say at a call center.
For a person to be very alert, agile, positive and ready to face the night’s challenge at work, a few basic habits could be ingrained into the daily lifestyle of the person.
* The hours between 3:00AM and 6:00AM are the hardest to go through with, as this is the time when a person is at his/her sleepiest. Try to keep yourself mentally alert and active by keeping your most challenging work for this time slot.
* Listening to music (if your employer allows that), keeping your workplace well illuminated, beautifying it maybe with a cheerful and inspiring picture, or a vase with some beautiful flowers, would help in making you feel good about the work waiting for you.
* Keep a positive and smiling countenance with your colleagues and friends in the office. This could again go a long way in making you and the others feel cheerful and help establish an easy camaraderie within the team.
* Working on the computer for hours together could lead to eyestrain. Closing your eyes for a few seconds – say, maybe once every two hours, or rubbing your palms together and then holding them to your eyes would help relax strained eyes.
* Get up at regular intervals and walk about a little to continue feeling active.
* Practicing some relaxing breathing techniques could make you feel perked up and enthusiastic to work the night away.
* Try not to drink too much of coffee, tea or aerated drinks as these cause more harm than good.
* Try to increase your intake of fresh fruit juices.
* Try to begin your night’s work after a good, nutritious and filling meal, because you need the energy to meet your work requirements.
* Try not to eat very oily or spicy food as this coupled with the night’s sleepless state might increase stomach acidity. Once home, make sure you spend a little time with your near and dear ones generally exchanging news. This will help in keeping those very important familial ties at their best and of course, a happy person is a happy worker too.
* Have a light and nutritious breakfast before you retire to bed to catch up on your sleep. Try to avoid coffee or tea before you get ready to sleep, as this would hamper your sleep pattern.
* It is now scientifically proved that about 5 to 6 hours of deep sleep are sufficient to rest your body after a day of work. Since one is usually accustomed to a dark room at nights, you could try to make your room dark by having some thick drapes pulled or you could even tie an dark colored eye-band on your eyes to get sleep. Make sure your mattress is sensible and provides good support to your tired body.
* Just before sinking into dreamland, you could try to practice some simple yogic exercises like breathing techniques and Shavasana (both are very simple and easy to learn and would take only about 10 minutes of your time) these might help you sleep like a baby.
These small lifestyle changes could go a long way in making you a productive and friendly employee. Following stress-relieving techniques advocated by Yoga and other disciplines could help you cope better with night shifts.
Happy Night Shifts!