Does the Brain Ever Adjust to Working Night Shift?

Does the Brain Ever Adjust to Working Night Shift?

by Americare Respiratory Services

Working the night shift can have a negative effect on your overall health. The importance of getting enough sleep on a regular basis – 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep – seems common sense, but how do you insure you can accomplish that when you work a night shift or swing shift job?  The risk of becoming sleep deprived and developing some adverse health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity can be higher in people that do shift work, according to many studies.

The circadian rhythm is the term that refers to our built-in body clocks. It can be described as a 24-hour physiological process in all living beings that tells our brains it’s time to go to sleep or to wake up. Studies have shown that there are clear patterns of brain wave activity, cell regeneration, and hormone production that are triggered by the circadian rhythm. So, can we reprogram our brains to adjust to night shift?

Working a night shift job is going against your body’s natural rhythm, which can make sleeping during the daytime - when your brain says it’s time to be awake – very difficult to achieve.

Many people have important jobs that require them to work through the night such as police officers, fireman, doctors, nurses, road construction workers. If you’re one of these night shift workers, or your partner is, what can you do to improve quality of life and health?

Developing a regular sleep time routine can help your mind and body prepare for sleep. Here are a few suggestions:

·         try to go to bed at the same time

·         wash your face or shower

·         brush your teeth

·         avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine

·         minimize your time in the daylight

·         minimize activities after your work shift

Enlist family, or others in your household, to keep the noise down by refraining from vacuuming, or repair work around the house. Many find using a sleep mask to block light to be helpful as well as “white noise” like a sound machine or a fan.

In reality, shift workers have to go against what is natural to our brain, so they must find ways to cope with the disadvantages of shift work and hopefully the benefits outweigh the negatives. But, should you find yourself becoming concerned about your health, or if you are experiencing insomnia or other symptoms of sleep deprivation, the resources at Americare Respiratory Services are here to help. We know about sleep, and we would love to be of service to you.