Shiftwork and shifts with extended hours refer to any non-standard work schedule. The traditional eight-hour day worked between 7 AM and 6 PM has changed dramatically and many people now regularly work evening and night shifts and/or extended hours. Studies show that shiftwork and shifts with extended hours can have significant adverse effects on health, workplace accident rates, absenteeism and a worker's personal life.
Researchers have found several negative health effects in shiftworkers and workers on extended hours. Some of these are:
* Increased heart disease
* Gastric ulcers and gastro intestinal problems
* Social problems and minor psychiatric disorders
* Sleep disorders and increased fatigue
* Increased error rates and accident rates.
Some personal factors can make workers more susceptible to problems when doing shift work or extended hours. These include:
* A heavy domestic work load
* Psychiatric illness
* A history of alcohol or drug abuse
* Heart disease
People vary in how they cope with shift work depending on their health, fitness, age, lifestyle, and domestic responsibilities; some adapt well, others do not. Whilst we cannot change our inbuilt characteristics, it is possible to alter our behavior or make lifestyle changes that may make shift work more tolerable. To be able to work in night shifts without compromising on health, there are certain steps one can take to keep healthy:
1. One should eat dinner, before beginning the shift, at 7 or 8 pm rather than late at night when it is almost 12.
2. Many people avoid eating or eat a fatty snack food because they do not want to feel heavy before a shift. In that case, food choices like idlis with chutney, brown rice, poha (flattened rice) with vegetables, besan cheela (gram flour pancake) made on non stick pan, vegetable dalia (wheat porridge), cereal with milk can be some of the options which are not heavy like a full meal and yet are very satisfying.
3. One should keep oneself hydrated through the night with water, nimbu paani (lemon water), coconut water, herbal tea, soups, ginger drink, barley drink made fresh in the café.
4. If one feels hungry at night one can eat a combination of nuts and murmura. For example: a dry snack can be made using any of the ingredients like peanuts, roasted flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, raisins, puffed rice, roasted chana, roasted corn, roasted moth and other dals.
5. One should try to manage hunger by drinking more fluids than eating starchy foods.
6. Drinking luke warm water before eating is a great idea for improving digestion as it lubricates and activates the intestine, especially at night.