The Mental Effects on Night Shift Working and How to Deal
The night shift can seem like a neat idea to those who have never worked. You get to stay up late and free up your days for whatever recreational activities you enjoy.
What’s not to love? Unfortunately, those who have had the chance to work night shifts know that these hours can take a toll on your sense of wellbeing.
Understanding the mental effects that come as a result of working night shifts along with how to deal with these symptoms can make working nights easier and less taxing.
What are the Negative Effects of Working Night Shifts?
Working night shifts can affect you in a slew of negative ways. Most of these negative effects will come as a result of sleep deprivation. This is because sleep is a vital part of being able to function properly, and when you’re not getting enough sleep or binge sleep, you run the risk of experiencing negative mental health symptoms.
In addition, we as humans are wired to wake up when the sun rises and sleep when it sets. When we go against our body’s natural sleep cycle, our circadian rhythms are thrown off. This can make it difficult to fall asleep even when you’re tired while also causing you to feel exhausted whenever you’re awake.
As a result of sleep deprivation, you may experience:
- Extreme fatigue
- Mood swings
- An inclination towards making poor dietary choices
In some extreme cases, sleep deprivation may even put you more at risk for developing illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Not to mention, sleep deprivation can cause you to experience a number of negative mental health effects such as anxiety and depression. If these symptoms are left untreated, you run the risk of developing serious mental health issues.
While night shifts aren’t common in all industries, there are many in which night shift workers are commonplace. Some professionals that may work night shifts include:
- Gas station attendants
- Police officers
- Taxi drivers
Nurses in particular experience some of the most stressful schedules. As such, efforts are being made by nurse leaders at various institutions to make nurse scheduling effective and fair. Given the severity of some of the negative effects of working night shifts, nurses — along with other workers who work night shifts — can benefit from developing healthy habits to combat these effects.
Tips to Deal with Working Night Shifts
Though working night shifts can be difficult, you can make it more manageable by developing certain healthy habits to combat the negative effects.
Here are some tips for dealing with working night shifts:
Stick to Your Sleep Schedule and Make Sleeping Easy
For those who work night shifts, sleep schedules are going to differ from most people. However, just because you don’t engage in a typical sleep schedule doesn’t mean that you don’t need a sleep schedule at all. Whether you go to bed at nine in the morning or three in the afternoon, creating a consistent sleep schedule can help your body get the rest it needs.
While sleeping according to the sun is ideal, there are ways to simulate a normal sleep schedule so that your body reacts the same way. One great way to help encourage your body to rest is by making sure your bedroom is pitch dark. You can do this by investing in black-out curtains while also making sure to unplug any devices or electronics that have lights on them.
By creating an environment that tricks your body into thinking that it’s night, you’ll be more likely to experience deep, restful, and rejuvenating sleep.
Create Work-Life Balance Where You Can
One of the biggest negative effects of working night shifts is having a schedule that differs from your friends and family. This can make spending quality time with loved ones more difficult and less frequent than it is for those who work during the day.
It can be helpful to schedule time for friends and family whenever you can. For instance, if you start work at nine at night and your children finish school at three in the afternoon, having family time from six to eight can ensure that you consistently get the social connection that you need.
Without a healthy work/life balance, you run the risk of developing strenuous relationships and negative mental health experiences. If you aren’t able to figure out night shift, discuss with your supervisor about changing the nursing work schedule.
Be Mindful of Exercise and Nutrition
When working night shifts, it can be difficult to have a consistent schedule of exercise and eating. However, without these consistently scheduled activities, you run the risk of developing a number of physical and mental ailments that can have a profoundly negative effect on your body and mind.
It’s important not to snack too much while working night shifts. Rather, you should treat your schedule like a normal day and eat full meals at certain set times. Adding a routine of consistent exercise and schedules meals can help decrease the negative effects of working night shifts and help you feel like your usual self again.
Take Control of Your Life
Your life doesn’t have to suffer as a result of working night shifts. By being purposeful about your schedule and taking precautions to avoid the negative effects of night shifts, you can ensure that you’re living a healthy life. Take control of your life and take the steps you need to in order to avoid negative health experiences as a result of working night shifts.
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