Good Example Of The Night Shift Research Paper
The effects of sleep loss over performance have been known for over a century. Disrupting the day-night cycle has a variety of consequences for the body and brain. Night shifts have more long-term effects on the cognitive performance, motor performance, mood, well-being, overall health and longevity of life. Lessening the impact of the circadian rhythm and a variety of suggestions has been made over the years advising various means to improve the safety of night workers . It is the responsibility of the workers to be aware about the physiological requirement of adequate sleep, overall impact of sleep deprivation and the effects of disrupting the circadian rhythm on the job performance and safety. Hence, there are certain strategies that benefit the night workers. Though the strategies do not address the underlying problem, they aim at improving the impact of night-work.
Diet plays an important role in improving the safety of the night shift workers. Emphasizing on the timing of meals during the day-night cycle, the times of meals and the types of diet are important. While some workers consume advocated jet-lag diets on the basis that high protein diets create alertness, some others follow high carbohydrate meals. Milk is one of the most important constituents as it contains the substance called L-tryptophan, which helps in promoting sleep . Avoiding spicy foods and foods containing caffeine before bedtime are essential for a good sleep. Napping is another strategy that improves the safety of the workers. Short naps for at least 45 minutes followed by 15 or 30 minute naps for a wake-up period help the workers to get rid of sleep inertia. When possible, longer naps of 2 hours allow time for a more beneficial full REM cycle.
The administration of light has a significant effect on the circadian rhythm. Exposure to the bright light in the first half of the night leads to phase delay, which is a countermeasure to physiological adaptations of the sleep-wake cycles. Phototherapy scheduled 3-6 hours prior to the nadir of the core body temperature cycle, which is 1-2 hours prior to morning awakening causes delays in body temperatures, cortisol, melatonin and subjective alertness of shift workers . Short-term bright light treatment helps the workers in adapting to night work period, especially subsequent re-adaptation to day life. Bright light can exert a direct altering affect leading to improved performance levels, increased vigilance and reduced sleeplessness score. Improved workplace lighting is another effective countermeasure element for shift workers.
Circadian rhythms refer to the biological processes in the human body that repeat every 24 hours. Human circadian rhythms normally persist with a period slightly greater than 24 hours. Examples of circadian rhythms include diverse phenomena, such as body temperature, hormone secretion, performance and alertness. The fundamental issue in circadian rhythm is timing . The endogenous clock is a circadian pacemaker that performs two functions. The first drives the body to fall asleep and wake up after an appropriate time, while the second modulates the waking behavior. The various synchronizers of the circadian rhythm are environmental cycles, such as light and darkness, availability of food and temperature. The night time downturn in the circadian processes leads to reduced alertness and performance in shift workers. While alertness and arousal are highest during the day, they are the lowest during the nights .
Any work schedule that requires people to work when they normally sleep conflicts with their circadian cycles causing a disruption in the circadian rhythm. There are two opposite approaches to the schedules of work. From the perspective of circadian, there is a strong recommendation to never rotate the shifts . The idea is to allow each person work in the night shifts for 4-6 weeks and make sure that the person gets a day shift for an equal amount of time. Another strategy is to work in as few night shifts as in a row as possible, so that there is no necessity to reset the circadian rhythm. It also helps to maintain a constant diurnal orientation. The major benefit of the second approach is that once adapted, the person would get an opportunity to rest and take optimal care . Circadian principles are more applicable to eight-hour shifts. If a person has to work for several nights, shorter shifts are an advantage. It is advisable to have clockwise shifts from morning to evening to night followed by a break and the day shift.
Another approach is to allow 6 hour night shifts, 8 hour evening shifts and 10 hour day shifts in order to compensate the less number of hours worked during the night shift. An individual should schedule the sleep in such a way that he gets at least 3-4 hours of sleep before the night shift and 3-4 hours of sleep after the night shift . The idea behind this approach is to ensure that the person gets at least a portion of sleep during the circadian period. Anchoral sleep scheduling is another technique during which an individual stays awake until 3-4 am and sleeps until 10-11 am. Scheduling the shifts from 2-10 am, 10-6 pm and 6-2 am allows each worker to get an ample amount of sleep during the regular sleep time. Thus, following the above approaches helps the night shift workers to maintain their circadian rhythm by managing their shifts, and time and duration of sleep.
Battle, C. (2009). Essentials of Public Health Biology: A Guide for the Study of Pathophysiology. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
Spencer, P. S. (2010). Biological Rhythms. DIANE Publishing.