Welcome to the night shift, new nurse! Many people in different professions think you are nuts for even accepting that you will work third shift after going to school for nursing. “Good luck with that”, you may have heard. Well, new evidence shows night shift does not only feel bad on your body when you wake up, but it is increasing your risk of cancer and heart disease…woo hoo.
The Nurses’ Health Study released information and it was recently published in an article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, proving that those women who have been on rotating night shift work (OK, those who work nights, unless you live in a cave, are rotating on their days off), have a significantly higher rate of cardiovascular disease. Those who worked longer than that had even higher rates. Lung cancer is also 25% higher in those who worked rotating shifts, but generally not all cancers.
Tips to help your health on night shift
Well, unfortunately, nothing has been proven to help (like sleep aids), but we have no choice but to work it as a nurse, most of the time. So, night shift workers need to try to lower their risk in other ways. How?
- If you smoke – quit!
- Exercise – Yes, move!
- Stop the night shift cravings – learn to eat a healthy diet.
- Go to the doctor – As nurses we are the worst when it comes to being a patient. GO to the doctor for regular screening to help avoid problems.
Working night shift is not easy for anyone. Check out how to get through the night shift in the nerdy nurse Brittany’s blog.
Those who work night shift do not usually do it because we want to. If you have a chance to get off the shift, do it, it’s the best decision. Most nurses after coming to dayshift do not realize how bad they were until they started to feel good.
Tip for those who think your kids want you on the shift: they don’t. Most kids understand that you won’t be there at night, but they don’t see you “there” when you have 2 hours of sleep either. Rest for your kids. Put them in daycare if you need to sleep a little bit, don’t feel guilty. You need to take care of yourself, they sleep at night, you should be able to sleep during the day.
In the meantime, she says that shift workers concerned about their risk should do everything they can to lower their risk of heart and cancer risk in other ways — by quitting smoking, getting enough exercise, eating a healthy diet and getting regular cancer screenings.