Personal health care often falls to the wayside when working twelve hour shifts. Personal time for employees is compromised during hours worked. Although, the time off can be beneficial when / if (it can be) used advantageously. Many workers concern themselves with making the dollar. It is interesting to note that twelve hour shifts do not require as many people for coverage. This results in a net gain for the employer. One’s-self should be priority when working the twelve hour shift.
It is not a stretch to imagine that sleep is a highly sought after commodity for the 12 hour shift worker. Time for personal health, i.e.: exercise is also difficult to carve out. Nurses, who often work twelve hour shifts, experience general stress, fatigue, cognitive anxiety, problems sleeping, as well as a number of other health problems. The long shifts also make it difficult to eat healthy and cook balanced meals. Due to time constraints, the person may rely on fast food, which is usually higher in saturated fat and sugars.
Regular lifestyle concerns must be shoved into one’s life between shifts. Activities that would normally draw one in to participating have to be forewent. Sleep is very important for the stress regulation. According to the researchers, constant exposure to stressful situations for long periods of time, along with generally difficult hours of work (often nurses working 12-hour shifts were working overnight) and the overall psychological demands of the job, can lead to general stress, fatigue, cognitive anxiety, problems sleeping, as well as a number of other health problems
The twelve hour shift schedule can put a damper on free day activities. A negative for shiftworkers may be the need to re-familiarize themselves more often with the “big picture” of plant operations upon returning from a string of off days. Some shiftworkers take on another job during the off days. They may actually make more money than at the shift job. However, moonlighting can potentially hurt a worker’s productivity at the plant and undermine the advantage of recovery days. Then there is the social aspect to consider. Sleep may be a better bet than going out with friends or fulfilling familial obligations. Yet the need for or desire to socialize or the need to be on hand for family can be hard to resist
Workers on 12-hour shifts tend to have more days off during the week. While schedules can be odd, they tend to be relatively consistent. Once one understands their schedule, they can properly address childcare, doctor’s appointments, chores, errands, and other tasks, as they can complete them on their days off. Exercise is a viable option for off days. This is also a time that can be utilized for rest and recuperation.
Longer shifts provide a business with greater continuity and, by proxy, quality. Twelve-hour shifts permit (some) companies to hire fewer people, depending on the circumstances. This small staff reduction can be financially beneficial for companies. Companies may find that the days off during the week reduce absenteeism because workers can schedule appointments on their days off. The only real concern here would be coverage for (unexpected) absenteeism. Some workers may not want to come in on their days off without specifically being scheduled for coverage.
My overarching concern is the amount of self-care that the shift worker will schedule for themselves. Exercise is high on my priority totem pole. People in society tend to be overwhelmed with activities. Exercise is then viewed as a huge time commitment . . . up to 90 minute blocks of time. This is not necessarily a requirement. Fitness for the 12 hour shiftworker is attainable and maintainable. It requires consistency and commitment. Working a job is requisite. Maintaining one’s health for the job and life outside of the job is mandatory.