what shift-work does to your body
Michael Tambo - April 2012
In today’s capitalistic society where the need to make profit surpasses any other need, people no longer care about their health and all that matters to them is making more and more money to enrich themselves and their families.
As a result of the need to maximise profit, many companies have increased their production capacities in order to boost their company’s productivity. Thus, they have resorted to employees working for longer hours in order to meet deadlines. They have also introduced day and night shifts to ensure 24-hour production.
Amidst all this comes the shocking discovery of a sleeping disorder best known as Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder, which according to research conducted by medical experts, affects about 60% of the shift workers around the world.
Doctor Shaun Whittaker; a local clinical psychologist defines Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder as, “a persistent sleep disruption leading to excessive sleepiness or sleeplessness due to a mismatch between the sleep schedule required by the person’s environment and the circadian patterns.”
“Circadian rhythm is a biological system, which conforms to the day to day-night or sleep-wake cycle. When the system is disturbed, the biological rhythms are thrown off, which result in ill effects - since the sleep-wake cycle is synchronised with several hormones such as growth hormones or melatonin,” says Dr Whittaker.
Circadian rhythm sleep disorders all involve a problem in the timing of when a person sleeps and when they are awake. The human body has a master circadian “clock” in a control center of the brain known as the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN) and the circadian rhythms are important in determining human sleeping patterns.
This entails that when a person works at night and sleeps during the day, their body’s internal clock needs to reset to let them sleep during the day.
This internal clock, according to Dr Whittaker, regulates the timing of such body rhythms as temperature and hormone levels. The primary circadian rhythm that this body clock controls is the sleep-wake cycle.
According to a research he carried out, about 60% of night-shift workers have this disorder. This implies that nurses, mine workers, doctors, police officers, bar tenders, truck drivers and airplane pilots, etc are at risk of having these sleep disorders.
Shift work that changes on a frequent basis makes deve...
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