Do Your Shiftworkers Know About Circadian Rhythms?
If you were to give all your shiftworkers a one-question test — “What are circadian rhythms, and how do they affect you?” — how many would pass?
This admittedly odd thought struck me after a recent visit to a large manufacturing plant. In conversations with shiftworkers, I was surprised at how few people had ever even heard of circadian rhythms.
Although there’s no need for everyone to be an expert in physiology, shiftworkers do stand to benefit from having a basic understanding of how circadian rhythms influence sleep, mood and alertness.
Among the areas where such knowledge can assist shiftworkers:
- Devising a sleep strategy specific to your schedule
- Identifying “danger zones” when alertness is likely to be at its lowest
- Timing caffeine use for maximum benefit
- Preparing for shift changes and making the transition to days off
- Determining ideal times for short “power” naps
- Recognizing and reducing the risk of falling asleep at the wheel during the drive home
- Planning family time when the worker is most likely to be in a positive frame of mind
Whether through formal training sessions on “Managing a Shiftwork Lifestyle” or distribution of publications, you should make sure your shiftworkers are up to speed on circadian rhythms. The information is widely available — in our Health & Safety Guide, in our monthly Working Nights Newsletter, as well as from other sources.
Let us know if we can help you spread the word.
- Managing a Shiftwork Lifestyle Training Program - Learn about the employee and employer benefits of offering shiftwork and fatigue training to your workforce
- Working Nights Newsletter - A monthly wellenss promotion newsletter specifically for shiftworkers and people who work at night
- Shift Scheduling Homepage - Learn more about shift scheduling, staffing levels, and expanding to a 24/7 operation