Is the Night-Shift Making you Stressed and Anxious?
For many the night shift is a required part of their employment, from factory workers to care workers night time often means work time.
But what effect does working throughout the night have on people? Health psychologists increasingly argue that being awake and active during the night is not only unnatural but detrimental to peoples longterm health.
New research recently published in the Journal of Work & Stress investigated whether different work schedules such as working nights may increase anxiety and depressive symptoms.
In Europe, approximately 1 in 5 workers is engaged in some kind of shift work involving night work, and 1 in 10 workers have more than 5 night shifts per month.
Given the large amount of people involved in night work health implications may be worth examining:
Night work leads to a disruption of the body’s circadian rhythms, including the sleep–wake pattern.
In this particular study the researchers looked at nurses who were coming off a run of nights.
The nurses completed a questionnaire known as the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale which is commonly used in research to examine anxiety and depression.
The study found that surprisingly during the period that they looked at, those nurses changing from days to nights did not feel worse:
The results revealed that night workers and nurses who changed from day work to night work during the study period did not differ from day workers either in terms of baseline symptoms of anxiety or depression, or in terms of trajectories of these symptoms.
But more in line with expectations those nurses coming off a run of night shifts felt better:
However, nurses who changed from night work to day work reported a significant decrease in symptoms of both anxiety and depression over time compared to day workers
While more research may be needed, anxiety and depression in night-workers may be an important factor that organisations should be mindful of.