Inside each of us is a clock. Sort of, it is not like an actual ticking clock with gears and springs, but it is a clock none the less. Our body clock helps us wake up in the morning and get to sleep at night, it regulates a number of functions in our body ensuring that when morning comes we are ready to go and that when it becomes dark we get drowsy and can fall asleep. The body clock is set by a number of environmental cues, with changes in light being the major one.
That is all well and good for the majority of us who work during the day and sleep at night but what about people who work during the night? Shift work runs counter to our body clock as it forces us to be awake when our body clock is telling us to be asleep and vice versa. So what can the shift worker do to lessen the impact of working at night? Traditionally there wasn’t much they could do but with recent research uncovering the vital role that melatonin plays in regulating the body clock a number of sleep experts now recommend that shift workers take melatonin supplements to help them, though medical advice should be sought before taking them.
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