How Can Alternating Shift Work Negatively Impact Your Health? | isense

How Can Alternating Shift Work Negatively Impact Your Health?

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Shift works are an integral part of the working system. While some jobs demand this routine, some people take up these offers to meet their financial needs. Irrespective of the reason, we can not deny the effect of this routine on the body. It disturbs and deviates from your regular sleep patterns and ultimately takes a serious toll on your health. Check out this article to learn more about the negative impacts of shift work on your health.

What is Shift Work?

Shift work refers to a work schedule that requires employees to work on rotations. Here, they have to work on hours other than the traditional daytime. This work schedule involves working 24/7 to provide necessary products or services to consumers. While some are necessary to human society, others are just for financial gain. Work shifts are often peculiar to certain professions such as policemen, doctors, nurses, waitresses, firefighters, manufacturers, and many more. In some situations, some individuals perform this duty to meet their financial needs. 


There are three categories of shift work schedules according to the Bureau of Labor of Statistics. These include:

  1. Evening Schedule

Some jobs are peculiar with this task. It is the typical service provided at dusk to satisfy consumers. This schedule often falls within the hours of 6 pm to 10 pm. Common professions engaging in this schedule are:

  • restaurateur, chefs, waitresses, bartenders, and other food and drink service employers

  • Personal Care employers such as hairdressers, salon workers, and more

  • Retail store workers such as cashiers, attendants, and so on

  • Other professions such as footballers, musicians, broadcast technicians, directors, artists, and more.

  1. Night Schedules

Some professions demand that the employers work at night. It can be to take care of emergencies or just the usual work routines. This schedule falls from 11 pm to 3 am. Common professions in this category include:

  • Healthcare Professionals such as nurses, doctors, paramedics, and more
  • Protective service Employees such as policemen, firefighters, security guards, security operatives, and more. 
  • Manufacturing workers such as assembly line workers, machinists, and more.
  • Transportation employees such as air traffic controllers, truck drivers, and more.

  1. Dawn Schedules

Some professions perform their tasks at dawn. They work within the hours of 4 am to 8 am. Common professions in this category include:

  • Engineers
  • Agriculturists such as farmers, fishery, and forestry employees
  • Repairers such as repair professionals, telecommunication equipment repairers, and more.

How Alternating Shift Work Affects Your Sleep 

Shift work disrupts the circadian rhythm of your body system. The circadian rhythm is the internal clock of your body that tells you when to sleep and when to wake up. It is the natural order that regulates other behaviors including sleep. When you do shift work with alternative hours, you automatically fight against this natural order that makes you go to bed early and wakes you up in the morning. As a result, you will have to sleep during the day when the body is expected to be alert and ready for work.


The overall consequence of this is that you may not be able to sleep soundly during the day. You could sleep for a few hours (3-5 hours) instead of the usual time the circadian rhythm has set up for your body. Hence, you can develop insomnia. Besides, your sleep pattern could be very brief as you could easily get triggered by the slightest noise or people. Furthermore, you could develop sleep disorders that can create sleep problems. Sleep apnea and narcolepsy are examples of these disorders that inhibit you from feeling alert and sleeping soundly. If you ever feel any of these problems, it is best advised to consult a sleep specialist.

How Alternating Shift Work Affects Your Health

As mentioned earlier, shift work disrupts the circadian rhythm of our bodies. The tricky part is that disrupting this rhythm does not only affect our sleep patterns. It also affects our health. In the short and long run, there are consequences to bear for disrupting this natural order. 


In the short run, you could suffer some risks for shift work. Even if you are not a shift worker, you could have experienced some of the consequences of disrupting this natural order. You could suffer from insomnia, feeling of being unwell, risk of being injured or getting involved in an accident, or gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, constipation, heartburn, stomach upset, and others.


Meanwhile, in the long run, you could face some adverse effects that will affect your health and lifestyle. After all, researchers have discovered the link between rotating work schedules and serious health conditions. The cardiovascular system is one of the prime symptoms as shift workers get to have more heart attacks or other cardiovascular issues. Besides, metabolic symptoms such as diabetes and obesity are other increased factors. Furthermore, you could suffer from psychological problems such as depression or mood disorder. If you are female, there may be problems with your fertility rate.


Shift Work is a brilliant idea for specific professions. Besides, it helps one to meet his financial needs. Nonetheless, it is not a good thing to be sleep-deprived. If you can avoid this idea, then you are good to go.

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