Many Missouri industries operate 24 hours per day to maximize not only production but also profits. This leaves many workers having to work while most people sleep. Working irregular shifts for extended periods can cause a variety of health issues.
Are you a truck driver, firefighter, air traffic controller, doctor, nurse, paramedic or in another occupation in which you work from dusk to dawn? According to health authorities, working against your body’s natural rhythms risks everything from your brain to your heart.
Nature programs every function in your body to follow a circadian rhythm of daytime activity and rest at night. Circumvention of this rhythm exacerbates the existing risks of your job. Working the graveyard shift increases your vulnerability to mental impairment, illness and fatigue.
Mental Health Dangers
Feeling cranky and sluggish at the end of your night shift is not unusual. You will likely experience any or all of the following:
- Slowed reflexes
- Lapses in judgment
- Reduced cognitive function
- Impaired motor skills
- Sleep disorders
Workplace accidents happen in the blink of an eye, and any of these mental impairments increase your injury risk.
Physical Health Dangers
Sleep deprivation and fatigue are known causes of work-related accidents. However, you should not lose sight of the increased risks of suffering the following physical conditions if you work the graveyard shift:
- Heart disease
- Increased cancer risks
- Metabolic syndrome
An American Psychological Association study determined that metabolic syndrome is common among night shift workers. The following symptoms are typical of this syndrome, all of which could contribute to diabetes and heart disease:
- Elevated levels of triglycerides
- High glucose levels
- High blood pressure
According to the researchers, this syndrome is more prevalent under workers whose average hours of sleep is less than six hours.
You could reduce the risks of severe mental and health problems due to night shift work by promoting the following:
- Create and stick to a sleep program
- Avoid caffeine and nicotine for several hours before shifts end
- Establish healthy eating habits
- Create an exercise plan to increase activity
Of all these, your priority should be getting at least six hours of restful sleep after each night shift.
Whether you are injured on the job or develop a life-threatening disease due to fatigue and a lack of sleep, you might have a hard time proving it to be work-related. Fortunately, you can seek the support and guidance of an attorney with experience in dealing with the Missouri workers’ compensation program. The advocacy of legal counsel could increase your chances of receiving maximum applicable benefits.