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Night Shifts and Stressful Nights

January 2nd, 2008 · No Comments

Recently a headline hit all of the major papers, asking, “Is Night Shift Tied to Cancer?” The International Agency for Research on Cancer is adding overnight-shift work as a probably carcinogen.

This doesn’t mean that working nights will, by itself, cause cancer. What happens is that the overnight work creates a risk when it disrupts the circadian rhythm, your body’s biological clock. It restricts the production of melatonin, a hormone which is produced during the night hours and which can suppress tumor development.

If you do not work overnight shifts, you may have glanced at that article and said, “Well, that’s not me.” However, it should not be dismissed too easily. Even on regular schedules, if you struggle to get enough hours of good sleep time each evening, your circadian rhythm and melatonin production can be off.

Scenario One: You have trouble falling asleep because you often work right up until bedtime and do not have a chance to unwind. You then toss and turn for a couple of hours while your mind continues to work.

Scenario Two: You frequently wake up around 2 a.m., worried that you overlooked an important deadline or forgot to do something. Then you stay awake as your mind skips on to other things that you have to do.

In my time management seminars, those scenarios are often characteristic of many in the audience. They fall into a cycle like the following:

  • They are trying to keep up with all the demands on their time.
  • Stress accumulates.
  • It is difficult to “turn off” at bedtime.
  • Sleep is affected.
  • Without enough sleep, they start the day tired.
  • They are not as productive as they can be.
  • More stress accumulates.
  • They have difficulty falling asleep.

To break this cycle, learn some of the time management techniques that help you schedule your days more productively.

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Tags: Stress Management · Time Management · Work Hours · Work Life Balance