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Organizations in the health care, transportation, media, law enforcement and customer service industries require their employees to work in shifts that cover the entire 24 hours of the day. Depending on the system their organization adopts, employees may work the day or night shift with rotations in between. While working either shift has its pros and cons, health researchers have found definite negative effects of night shifts on the health of employees.
Working a day shift means you put off certain personal tasks to the late evening hours or the weekend. This has its disadvantages because most other people who work day shifts are likely to do the same. Whether it is grocery shopping or a hospital visit, you need to spend considerable time waiting your turn. If you work the night shift though, you get to complete your task during off-peak hours and save time. Moreover, when you work the night shift, you don’t need to ask for leave from work for occasions such as a meeting at your child’s school or a visit to your bank.
Certain employers pay night shift workers more. This provides an economic advantage to working the night shift as compared to the day shift. Besides, if you have the ability to wake up refreshed after a few hours of sound sleep, then you don’t need to spend money on a baby sitter for your children when they get home from school. Provided your spouse works the day shift, you can manage the kids without outside help. This reduces your expenses and contributes to the financial gain of working the night shift.
Working the night shift has serious disadvantages. It interferes with the circadian rhythms of the body, which are based on sleeping at night and remaining awake during the day. Most people find it difficult to stay alert during the night, but unable to sleep during the day. The National Sleep Foundation says that according to the International Classifications of Sleep Disorders, those who work in shifts are at a greater risk for several serious conditions, such as diabetes, ulcers, cardiovascular disease and depression.
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, people working night shifts report that their work shift influences the quality of their interaction with their family. Night shift workers who suffer from sleep and health disturbances find it difficult to fulfill their family responsibilities and also spend lesser time with their children and spouses. Working the night shift also reduces social interactions and may lead to an unhealthy sense of isolation.