SHIFT workers are those who render work across the entire 24 hours in a day. This may mean working at night or at dawn. If you’ve been reading this column for the past few weeks, you must know by now that quality sleep at night is essential for good health. Studies show that the short-term effects of shift work include gastrointestinal symptoms, increased risk of injuries and accidents, insomnia, a decreased quality of life, and a general feeling of being unwell, these health symptoms eventually develop to long-term effects such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and various ulcers.
For some, shift work is a reality of life, especially for those working in business process outsourcing (BPO) centers. How can we reverse the effects for shift workers? The answer is actually quite simple. You have to be healthy in other aspects to make up for your sleep. Let me go into more detail:
Food. Eat whole healthy food rich in vitamins and minerals for most meals of the week. Ditch the milk tea for real tea instead. Decrease caffeine consumption especially during your shift. Why? The intake of caffeine will only make it more difficult for you to sleep after your shift.
Exercise before your shift. The logic for this practice is so you feel more alert during your work shift, and you will not need to binge on coffee during your work hours. Exercise also prevents the symptoms brought about by shift work, further, exercise is a great way to reduce stress. I believe that more progressive companies make this a part of their program. After all, prevention is better than cure.
Get sleep on your rest days. That little time for sleep goes a long way into preventing a lot of the diseases brought about by sleep deprivation from shift work.
Realize that aging is part of the biological process. We do not stay young forever hence, we cannot be abusive of our bodies forever. Our good or bad habits will eventually catch up to us. It’s never too late to change your health patterns. Eat better. Exercise before work. Sleep on your rest days.