Whether you do so often or occasionally, working night shifts can certainly impact the way that you sleep. But the impact it can have on your health goes way beyond your sleep schedule. Working night hours have been tied to both mental and physical side effects. Of course, experts say there are ways to manage these potential side effects.
Whether you work night shifts exclusively or only every so often, here’s what you need to know about how working at night can potentially impact your health.
You can end up with sleep disorders.
Most of the time, these sleep issues look very similar to other sorts of sleep issues.
“They call it ‘shift-work sleep disorder,’ so basically anytime someone is having symptoms of insomnia or symptoms of excessive sleepiness that happen in relation to them working at night or having these weird, off-work schedules,” Dr. Cedrina L. Calder, MD, a preventive medicine physician, told INSIDER. “So [it] would just be just a normal sleep disorder but it would be related to the type of work that they’re doing.”
Doing your best to get the rest you need, minimizing light during the day when you need to be sleeping, and generally taking care of yourself can help, Dr. Rick Pescatore, DO, FAAEM, an emergency medicine physician and the director of clinical research at Crozer-Keystone Health System, told INSIDER.
It could impact your digestive health.
You might end up dealing with constipation.
If you sometimes work at night, you may likely end up eating meals at times that aren’t considered the norm or times your body isn’t used to. You could also be eating a different amount than usual or perhaps you might be eating a bit less healthily than you otherwise would. Because of this, you could end up dealing with constipation, weight gain, indigestion, and more, said Calder.
You may feel socially isolated.
It may feel lonely if your friends and family members are working daytime shifts.
If you work at night and all of your friends and family members work (or are awake) during the day, it can make you feel a bit more isolated than you otherwise would feel, which may not be good for your mental health. Calder said that being left out from those social activities in which you’d otherwise partake can potentially lead to depression and irritability.
It could impact your blood pressure.
Hypertension may be partially attributed to working night shifts. Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
Blood pressure’s another thing that could potentially be affected by your late-night work. According to Pescatore, researchers have previously found a connection between hypertension (otherwise known as high blood pressure) and night shift work.