Shift workers’ lives can only be improved by making schedule improvements.
Schedules are a major influence on shift worker well-being. Best practice schedules can greatly reduce the stress and fatigue associated with shift work. You can learn about schedule best practices in our on-sight Schedule Clinic or in our tele-seminar by the same name.
However, it is also critical that shift workers do what is necessary for their own self-care. This is particularly the case when it comes to getting sufficient quantity and quality of sleep. Shift workers often choose chores, and social or recreational activities or other employment during their time off instead of sleep. In this case, even the best schedule in the world won’t benefit the worker. Our publication “Working ‘Round the Clock: A Survival Guide for Shift and Night Workers” offers valuable tips on how to do self-care. Learn about sleep, diet and other strategies that we’ve gleaned from the latest research. For example, in our presentations for shift workers, we reveal how to time your sleep periods to ensure more sleep.
No one would do shift work or work at night if they had a choice.
This is the greatest fear of employers and a common perception of both the general public and shift workers themselves. BUT IT IS NOT TRUE! For a variety of reasons, many individuals enjoy both shift work and night work. Who are these people? Find out in our publication “Working ‘Round the Clock: A Survival Guide for Shift and Night Workers” or listen in on our seminar “Birds of a Different Feather at Work.”
Shift workers should try to maintain a lifestyle that is consistent with a ‘normal’ day work schedule.
This is advice that shift workers may have been given or which they try to adhere to because of personal belief. However, trying to maintain a ‘normal’ schedule while doing shift work is like having one foot in a pail of hot water and another in a pail of cold water. You get very confused! And you’ll probably feel more stressed and fatigued than you should.
Shift workers are healthiest when they maintain a lifestyle that is consistent with their work schedule. This takes some adjustment. Having said this, there is one schedule that, in fact, best meets shift worker needs when the shift worker maintains more of a regular day schedule. Do you know which schedule this is? Participants in our Schedule Clinic (on-site or tele-seminar) have already learned about this schedule.
Being successful with shift work is just a matter of common sense and doing what you have to do.
Certainly, those who agree with this statement reflect the fact that shift work requires something of the shift worker, that is, the shift worker must employ strategies to ensure sufficient sleep and good health. But if it was just a case of common sense, we wouldn’t see those shift workers who are, in fact, doing nothing to protect their sleep and those shift workers who are doing things which are counterproductive. We see this most often when talking about sleeping after the night shift. You may have heard the standard answer to this, but only in our Shiftworker presentations will you hear the RIGHT ANSWER FOR YOU.
Everyone could adapt to shift work if they needed or wanted to.
Even though there are individuals who do quite well with shift and night work, there are some (perhaps up to 20% of the population) who will never do well with shift and night work. Unfortunately, it is those who are doing well that are often least understanding of those who are having more difficulty. “If I can do it, why can’t you?” “You have to be tough to do shift work.” “Just suck it up and do it!” They may really want the job and they usually really need the job and the money that comes with it, but their sleep debt and health concerns become ever more severe. So if they’re motivated, why can’t they do it? Our publication “Working ‘Round the Clock” and our seminars provide the answer to this question. In addition, we have taken this information and developed proprietary tools to assist occupational health and human resource professionals.