They Don’t Call It The Graveyard Shift For Nothing: How To Keep Your Late Hours From Making You Sick

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My pal Lisa already told you that your toxic work environment may contribute to dry eyes, but even if you love your job, working too many hours at it–or just the wrong hours–can deplete your health in other ways. Turns out, working the graveyard shift can actually get you to an actual graveyard faster. Scary!

New research suggests that female shift workers have 22 percent higher risk of menstrual issues (typically painful or missed periods related to stress) and a dramatic 80 percent higher risk of lowered fertility, as well as a higher risk of miscarriages, than ladies clocking in a normal 9 to 5 gig. Yikes!

While it can be quick to blame shift work, experts say it’s more of a chicken-or-the-egg situation. “We have demonstrated an association between shift work and negative early reproductive outcomes, we have not proven causation,” said researcher Linden Stocker. “Shift workers adopt poor sleep hygiene, suffer sleep deprivation and develop activity levels that are out-of-sync with their body clock.”

Translation? Your adaptations to your job are likely just as much to blame as your job itself for your health woes.

How can you deal? Experts have some tips.

Watch your weight.
I hate hearing it too. Believe me. Because when I gain weight I have to buy new pants, and I really hate buying pants. And wearing pants. But experts say this is key. “Maintaining a healthy body weight, ensuring adequate exercise levels, and eating a well-balanced diet are as important, if not more so, in shift workers as the rest of the population,” Stocker said. “However, these factors often get neglected when women work shifts.” Moral of the story? Pack a healthy lunch to avoid trips to the vending machine, and get exercise in when you can.

Don’t try to do it all on your own.
If you’re busy at work, delegate household chores to roommates, your boyfriend, your kids. Shift work is already difficult enough with doing a second shift when you get home.

Use technology to save yourself time.
If you can order groceries online and have them delivered or picked up, it saves you a ton of time–and a lot of of impulse buys. Do that when you can!

If you’re pregnant, keep your cool.
Regardless of what job you have and what shift you’re working, you need to minimize your stress levels not just for you, but also for your baby. Talk to your doctor and an HR representative to find a balance.

Photo: ShutterStock

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