You might actually be sick!?!?!

October 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

So, the title of this post might seem a little strange, but I promise, keep reading and it will make more sense.  A few weeks ago I was offered the opportunity to participate in an online forum regarding the education of families and shift work staff on the impacts of those who who work shift work and the physical impacts on the shift worker themselves.  Two weeks ago I was able to participate in that webiner. Also involved was a Motorcycle cop from the West Coast, an air traffic controller, a columnist for the Miami Herald (her specialty was work life balance), and the facilitators.  It was a wonderful opportunity to discuss how the shifts we work truly impact us and our families.

Do you consider yourself a “shift worker” or are the hours you work just part of what you do?  Ddid you ever consider that you weren’t meant to work odd shifts?  I was asked during the webinar whether or not I consider my husband’s job shift work and I had to laugh because I don’t. It’s a known schedule where he is gone for 24 hours. When I’m running at the volunteer rescue squad, it’s not a shift, it’s my duty.  Honestly, how many of you consider yourself “shift workers”?  Yeah, it’s a 24 hour (or 12 hour, or 8 hour, or whatever) shift, but it’s just part of the job, just a schedule that is given to you. When you consider the impacts the job/shit places on you physically and mentally and also on your family, it because much more obvious that the job goes beyond the physical dangers that you may face when running calls.  Do you feel excessively tired, have trouble focusing or just overall out of it most of the time?

Did you know that those feelings are actually part of an medical disorder? It’s called Shift Work Disorder. Here is some information on Shift Work Disorder (SWD):

SWD Is Common

  • As many as 20% of US workers are involved in some form of shift work, including permanent or intermittent night work, early morning work, or rotating schedules.1,2
  • Approximately 10% to 25% of night-workers and rotating-shift workers have shift work disorder
  • This means that up to 1 out of every 4 night- or rotating-shift workers may be suffering from shift work disorder1-4
  • Over 15 million Americans work odd hours or non-traditional shifts, and are “at risk” for SWD.3
  • Of these, 3.75 million Americans are estimated to have SWD

Along with the insomnia/sleep issues, there are other areas of your life that SWD can impact. People with shift work disorder may experience:

  • Trouble focusing
  • Drop in work performance
  • Missed family and social activities
  • Worsening of heart and stomach disorders
  • Sleepiness-related accidents
  • Increased irritability

All of this information can be found at:

If you find yourself having any of these issues on a recurring basis, consider that it’s your shift that is causing them. Look at opportunities to change your shift, take a day off, or seek medical assistance to ensur ethat you don’t allow the SWD to take over your life!


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