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Must you deal with the reality of night work? Find out how to maintain your well-being, quality of life, and health.
In Quebec, it is estimated that one third of permanent jobs are outside conventional work hours. Therefore, the notion of "9 to 5" is not everyone's reality. Some work sectors are known for the predominance of night or irregular shifts (shift work)—public protection, hospital and manufacturing sectors, road transportation, etc.
It has long since been shown that the body is not initially made to function during the hours of darkness or to sleep during daylight hours. A significant and deliberate change of wake/sleep periods, as observed in night workers, causes an imbalance of the work/rest cycle and the biological clock (called the circadian rhythm).
This internal clock regulates most of the rhythmic processes in the human organism—sleep structure, bodily functions, hormone production, alertness, body temperature, etc. Thus, sleep quality and wakefulness, among others, are significantly influenced by circadian rhythm.
Night or shift work can have repercussions on:
Therefore, it is not uncommon to observe the following symptoms:
While some individuals seem quite unaffected by an atypical work schedule, others are more vulnerable to it. Without effective corrective measures, these harmful effects can impact a person's family, social or professional life. Additionally, over time, night workers can develop certain physical health problems (digestive problems, sleep apnea, muscle pain, etc.).
Fortunately, adopting certain measures can help night workers to maintain their well-being, quality of life, and health.
If you work at night, it is important to focus on personal health practices and on developing a routine. The first thing to do is to promote sleep quality, so you get as much restorative sleep as possible.
Here are a few tips to reach this goal:
To make daytime sleep easier, it may be tempting to take medication, natural products or other substances. Although this may sometimes be helpful, it should not be considered as your first option. Healthy personal practices should always be your first choice.
There are products available at the pharmacy to help with sleep difficulties. The ones sold over-the-counter are called "sleep aids". These products often contain diphenhydramine, an antihistamine known for its sedative properties. Before considering to take medication, always seek the advice of your pharmacist to ensure that the product is appropriate for you.
Melatonin is among the agents that have shown their significant effectiveness for wake/rest circadian rhythm-related problems like the ones experienced by night or rotating shift workers. Good things have also been said about various natural products, like the ones that contain valerian or passion flower, to help you sleep.
Medication can be prescribed for a severe sleeping problem. Your pharmacist can provide information about the options available and offer advice.
Pharmacists are always there to help you with any well-being and health-related questions. Ask your pharmacist for advice!
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