Does your employment involve shift work?
Have you experienced a decline in health whilst rotating your working hours from day to night?
Have your eating habits or weight been affected due to shift work?
Yes? – Then you need to read on to tackle the demons of the twilight hours!
What is the problem?
Sustained shift work may mean that on certain days you will work during normal hours and then the following week you may tip your body clock completely the other way for your night shift, only then go back to the original day shifts and then be caught in this cycle.
As your circadian rhythm is disrupted continuously, the internal environment of your body will create an imbalance between the key hormones; cortisol, insulin and leptin. Each of the hormones is tied to key body processes and thus an imbalance in them will lead to a number of problems, which may include weight gain, higher risk of diabetes and poor sleeping patterns. If these issues continue, then an individual is at a higher risk of suffering from heart problems and gut related complications.
Although a variety of issues are tied with shift work, the focus of this article is weight gain. It is important to know that shift work alone is not the only culprit; it is also the nature of poor diets, which contribute to the pounds piling on. A study carried out in the University of Baltimore found that over 50% of the nurses working shift hours were obese and the obesity risk was found to be higher if the individuals suffered from high levels of stress.
What can be done?
There are a variety of changes, which you can make in order to have a healthier approach to losing weight or stopping yourself from getting into habits where you gain weight:
- Be prepared!
During the night, the only catering places to be accessible are more likely to be takeaways and petrol stations. It is important therefore, to be prepared, and take with you healthy snacks and foods such as fruits, veg and salads. Plan for your shift everyday.
- Stay hydrated!
Often thirst can masquerade as hunger, so even though you may feel hungry, it may be that your body requires hydration to a higher level. So ensure you have water with you and keep drinking small amounts, but regularly.
- Work of the sleep debt!
Whenever it is time for you to sleep, ensure that the quality AND the quantity are good. Having undisturbed and sound sleep will help pay off the sleep debt and keep the key hormone processes in good working balance.
Shift work may have its disadvantages, however, with careful planning and a few healthy changes, you can expect to lose weight, be well rested and beat the risks of long term health problems! weight loss and shift work