Plenty of industries rely on employees working around the clock. From nurses, police officers, to even fast food workers, the graveyard shift is manned by 22 million Americans a year. These workers get higher pay and provide essential services to our society, but deal with limited sleep and related health issues. There are a number of effects that nontraditional shifts can have on employees.
Long-term shift work has been linked to increased risk of certain cancers, metabolic problems, gastrointestinal problems, and obesity. The lifestyle effects of their unusual work hours is why shift workers tend to have irregular eating habits and poor diets. Working at night decreases the release of melatonin, as there is little light exposure.
Lack of sunlight also contributes to the risk of mental health problems like depression. The disruption of the circadian rhythm associated with nontraditional work hours leads to social issues that can affect your well being and happiness. Going to work when others are ending their day, and leaving when just as others are waking up may make you feel out of sync with your social circles.
Productivity of shift workers is also at risk. These employees tend to not sleep enough in general, resulting in an accumulated deficit of proper sleep hours. Combined with the disrupted biological clock, this can slow your reaction time and ability to problem solve. Concentration and the ability to be present is negatively affected.
This impairment of cognitive and motor skills makes safety an issue with night shift workers. Supervision is also lower on night shifts, increasing the likelihood of mistakes in the workplace. Nodding off is known to happen even among nurses who get enough sleep during the day. Truckers who are near continuously working suffer from this as well. Accidents especially increase after successive night shifts.
This why it's especially important for those with nontraditional work schedules to ensure a proper sleep routine.