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Sleep is important for everyone. It’s a big part of staying healthy. But getting enough good quality sleep can be hard if you work the night shift or a swing shift where your work schedule varies greatly.
And in our 24-hour society, many people work outside of normal work hours. Hospital staff, police officers, firefighters, health care workers, and those who work in manufacturing and transportation often have non-traditional work hours.
Health care workers, who often work late shifts or swing shifts, are having an especially tough time. A recent study found that both experienced and new shift workers are having even more trouble sleeping because of the added stress from the COVID-19 pandemic.
A main challenge of shift work is that it forces you to sleep against the clock, says the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center. Our bodies function according to several 24-hour cycles called circadian rhythms .The sleep-wake cycle is one of those cycles. These circadian rhythms are like messages that govern important body functions, including:
The lifestyle of a shift worker, and the lack of sleep it can spur, can lead to many problems, including:
A health problem called shift work disorder can cause serious physical and mental health problems, says the Sleep Foundation. It can contribute to many issues, including:
Shift workers often deal with fatigue and other issues that can be dangerous at work. There are steps you can take while at work to stay safe. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health suggests that you:
Outside of work, these steps may help you get more sleep:
No matter what hours you work, make sleep a priority. It helps your mind and body recharge so you can stay healthy.
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