Shift Work Burnout – Ten Tips To Help Reduce The Debilitating Effects.

tempo per dormireWhen you work a 24/7 roster which encompasses some pretty ruthless hours, shift work burnout is going to be inevitable.

Considering sleep deprivation is often unavoidable and many employees have to work harder in today’s economic environment – burnout is becoming increasingly common amongst employees around the world.

But can you reduce the effects of shift work burnout?

You bet. And it all begins by watching out for the symptoms.

These may include things like headaches, stomach aches, high blood pressure, back and neck pain and even skin rashes. They are basically warning signs that your body is not at its optimum. In fact when you suffer from shift work burnout you can become more susceptible to viruses and other infections.

You may even begin to feel disillusioned at work and loose enthusiasm to do things. These are all warning signs. Some people may even develop a negative attitude and become quite cynical which can lead to varying degrees of depression.

Basically you begin to question what you are doing and why – which can lead to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.

You may even feel so frustrated and dissatisfied in your job that you begin to take more days off than usual, but you know when things are getting particularly bad when it begins to affect your personal life. This may be a change in personality which at its worst, leads to aggressive behaviour towards your friends and family.

Definitely not a good sign.

So there is no denying that shift workers are prone to burnout as sleep deprivation can be one of the major contributing factors.

There are however some things which you can do to help reduce the effects of this burnout:

Ten Tips to Help Reduce Shift Work Burnout:

1. Use an imaginary bubble to help separate yourself from what’s going on around you. Try to detach yourself and become less emotionally involved with things that are happening in the workplace.

2. Find ways to relax and recharge. Listen to some music, meditate or practice yoga to help clear out the mental clutter.

3. Don’t try and be a martyr – you are not a machine. Despite what society seems to dictate these days, you don’t always have to appear strong.

4. Have realistic expectations. Shift work is tough – it really is, so you have to accept that feelings of burnout is actually normal. In fact it’s inevitable, so it’s important that you start taking care of yourself.

5. Try not to become too involved and take work problems home with you. Once you leave work turn off that imaginary switch in your head.

6. Seek help – talk to family and friends. Just admitting that you are experiencing burnout can make you feel better.

7. Cut out the overtime. Working exceedingly long hours in the fastest way to accelerate shift work burnout.

8. Allow yourself time to enjoy yourself and have a good laugh – guilt free. Treat yourself to some nice things for a change.

9. Be less intense at work – don’t take it seriously. Be carefree and have some fun.

10. Book yourself in for a check up. Just like your car needs servicing regularly – so does your body.

So it’s important to realise that you can never eliminate shift work burnout. It will come and go throughout your career for as long as you continue to work irregular hours.

However in order to reduce the debilitating effects, you must learn to recognize the symptoms (and don’t ignore them) so that you can begin to apply some simple strategies to help manage these feelings the best way you can.

Shift Work Sleep Deprivation: Why You Need To Ban The Snooze Button.

As a sleep deprived shift worker, have you ever been tempted to grab an extra ten or fifteen minutes sleep by rolling over and hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock?

Now I want you to be honest with me here, because I’d say 99% of the shift working population are prone to the lure of the snooze button!

But did you know that the snooze button can actually make you feel even more tired?

Sound a little strange?

Well considering that most of us wake up feeling like we’ve had absolutely no sleep when we work shift work, the temptation to switch on the snooze button can become way too tempting. Because going without sleep for too long causes fatigue, drowsiness and can even lead to a decrease in alertness and lack of co-ordination.

In fact some people can even suffer from headaches and muscles pains, and become highly irritable when they don’t get enough sleep.

So what has this got to do with the snooze button on your alarm clock?

Well essentially the alarm interrupts your sleep cycle and your brain is then unable to complete its process of repair and rejuvenation. And if that’s not bad enough, when you go ahead and hit the snooze button, your brain enters another sleep cycle only to be interrupted again when the alarm clock goes off for a second time.

Now don’t get me wrong – in today’s busy world we can’t exactly throw away our alarm clocks and wake up to the sounds of chirping birds and sunlight streaming onto our face. Although this is a very attractive proposition.

The harsh reality is that shift workers need an alarm clock. Without it we would never make it into work on time – if at all!

But it’s important to realise that when your alarm clock goes off – you need to get up straight away. Shift work interferes with your sleep cycle – unquestionably, but hitting the snooze button will only make you feel even worse.

Of course if this is sounding way too hard, then try positioning your alarm clock away from your bed so that you actually have to get out of bed to turn it off! That way there’s less temptation to crawl back under the covers and sneak in that extra bit of snooze time.

Sleep Deprivation And Headaches: Why A Subaru And An Audi Should Never Cross Paths!

If you’re shift worker who suffers from sleep deprivation then I certainly feel for you. Because not only is sleep deprivation incredibly hard to manage but it can also leave you feeling tired, unmotivated and physically exhausted.

But what if you suffer from sleep deprivation because you work shift work, and you suffer from headaches as well?

It’s kind of like a double whammy isn’t it?

Well I must admit that I’ve always been fairly lucky – rarely suffering from headaches despite many years of sleep deprivation. However all that changed last week when I drove my Subaru Impreza home from work and became involved in a car accident.

It was a case of the Subaru crossing paths with an Audi – which was never going to be pretty.

I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when a young driver decided to drive down a one-way street – the wrong way! As he ploughed right in front of my path I had just seconds to react and slam on the breaks to avoid impact – unfortunately without success. But we can be grateful as we both managed to walk away fairly unscathed apart from minor burns to my arms, and the odd scratch and jolt to our neck and shoulders.

Alas I can’t same the same for my beloved ‘Suby Subaru’. Between the air bags going off and the damage to the front of the car – Suby had to be written off by my insurers.

So you might well be asking – what has this got to do with sleep deprivation and headaches, and why am I sharing this story with you? Well it’s not to feel sorry for me or my car (although you can if you like), but as someone who rarely suffers from headaches – I had the unfortunate pleasure of experiencing the double whammy.

That is, sleep deprivation AND headaches both at the same time which left me utterly shattered.

My head was left spinning and replaying the events that happened just a few hours earlier, leaving me with little sleep that night.

And this really got me thinking. How do people who suffer from sleep deprivation manage to get sleep when they are enduring a painful headache as well?

Try these 4 simple steps:

1. Drink a large Glass of Water. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of headaches so a glass of pure fresh spring water should help relieve some of the pain.

2. Massage. Massages help relieve any stress and tension – particularly when applied to your head, along with your face and neck because it helps eradicate headache pain.

3. Aromatherapy. This really does work. Sandalwood, peppermint, eucalyptus, lavender, and a wide assortment of other natural oils can be used to reduce, if not completely eliminate pain. These scents can be found in oils, candles, and even soaps.

4. Take a Hot Shower. Stand in the shower and allow the hot water to cascade down your neck and back. This should loosen your muscles and allow for better blood flow which will certainly help reduce the pain.

5. Rest. Sometimes a headache is just your body telling you that you’re overworked and way too stressed. Give yourself permission to lie down in a dark room, shut your eyes, and just relax for awhile.

So the next time you’re experiencing sleep deprivation and headaches, try one of the simple and easy tips that I’ve just mentioned above. The good news is that when you begin to eliminate the pain, your chances of having a good night’s sleep should vastly improve – and that has got to be really good news if you work shift work!

Sleep Deprivation: Why Getting 5 Hours or Less Sleep A Night Is Just Like Being Drunk!

As shift workers we’ve heard it all before – in order to feel healthier and have more energy, we must get more sleep.

But when you work crazy and irregular hours like we do, it’s certainly not an easy thing to do.

However in my quest to help you to become a much healthier and happier shift worker – I want to make sure that you fully understand just how important sleep is.

You see according to research, most adults need between 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.

But what exactly does “need” mean?

Consider this:

If you’ve been awake for 17 hours straight, then your performance is equivalent to that of someone who has a blood alcohol-level of 0.05%?

Now that’s the legal blood alcohol limit for driving in many countries around the world!

So, getting 5 hours or less sleep a night (as many of us do far too often) – is just like being drunk.

Need more proof on how sleep can save your life?

Studies in Canada revealed that when clocks were put back at the start of daylight savings – there was a dramatic fall in the number of road accidents.

Pretty scary isn’t it?

So whatever you do – don’t make your sleep deprivation worse by running on little sleep day after day, week after week, year after year.

Stop and take stock of your sleeping habits right now.

Allowing your bodies to get at least 7 hours a sleep a night on a consistant basis is a BIG ask for anybody – and especially so if you’re a shift worker.

But even if can just manage to do it a couple of times a week – then it’s certainly better than not being able to do it at all.

Getting Enough Sleep – A Constant Battle For Shift Workers Around The World.

Getting enough sleep when you’re a shift worker can certainly be an uphill battle. Achieving that good quality, restorative sleep can so often elude the already sleep-deprived shift worker.

So what can you do to help ensure that you are getting enough sleep?

Well the most important bit of advice that I can give you is actually often the most overlooked, and it’s called making your bedroom a sleep sanctuary. Some simple tips include the following:

1. Your bedroom environment should calm you. That means no computers, televisions, mobile phones, violent reading material or dirty clothes – all of these can make you feel anxious and keep you awake.

If you must keep some electronics in your bedroom, make sure you turn them off before bedtime and keep them out of your sight.

2. A slightly cool room can help enhance your sleep – about 18 degrees is considered a good bench mark. This is because it matches what occurs deep inside the body, when the body’s internal temperature drops during the night to its lowest level.

3. In addition the darker it is when you sleep, the better your melatonin production and the better the quality of your sleep. So to block out light from outside, always draw your blinds or curtains and turn those brightly lit digital clocks around so you can’t see them.

Getting enough sleep if you’re a shift worker is certainly hard to do, but it’s important to realise how your bedroom environment plays an enormous role in both the quality and quantity of your sleep. And the good news for shift workers is that this is something that you can change quite easily.