It is not called the graveyard shift for no reason! Working through the night is dangerous in a number of ways. If you have ever had to work shift work you will have a pretty good idea of all the different risks that are associated with expecting your body and brain to stay up throughout the night and to deal with dramatic changes in sleep schedules. Even people who have simply had a night where for some reason, be it insomnia or an early flight, they have been unable to sleep properly will have an idea of how destructive and dangerous it can be. So what exactly are the risks that are connected with this? Read on to find out why the graveyard shift is very appropriately named.
1. You general health will suffer: Let’s start with the basics. For starters doing the graveyard shift means that your general health will suffer. Sleep plays a vital role in a number of different physiological functions and when you work through the night you are never going to get the same fulfilling sleep as you would if you were sleeping normally. What issues are there? Well sleep helps regulate your appetite and it plays a central role in healing and fighting off disease and sickness, so working nights will compromise your weight and health.
2. Your mental capacities will degrade: Ok, so sleep is also essential for memory processing and general cognition. It also is the time when your brain is ‘washed’ of all the harmful toxins that build up. The longer you work graveyard the worse your memory and ability to think clearly will become, but even scarier is that fact that your chances of suffering from a neurological condition like Alzheimer’s will increase dramatically.
3. Your moods and emotions will get worse: Yip, sleep also helps to regulate moods and emotions. People who are not getting the right amount of sleep, like you graveyard shift workers, will find that you are more easily depressed, that you are less happy and that your emotions and moods are less stable in general. Again the longer you work this shift the worse it becomes.
4. You have a higher risk of being in a serious accident: The stats do not lie, people who are tired, and especially those who are chronically tired, are far more likely to be involved in a serious accident, be it driving or at work. Graveyard shifts are inherently dangerous, as is the drive home.
So what can you do? If you have to work the shift make sure that you are eating all the right foods, take melatonin supplements and stick to a schedule that ensures you get as much sleep as possible every day. Play around with different solutions to see what works for you, we have loads of advice on this website so have a look around for helpful hints and tips on sleep health.
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