Do you have a shift job or have you recently been offered a shift job? It's important to be aware of how shift jobs can affect you both mentally and physically — especially if you're working the second or third shift.
While shift work can be hugely flexible and beneficial in many ways, late-night shift work can also take a toll on you. Here's what you should know about working the second shift or later.
What are the different shifts?
You may be wondering, what are the different shifts? Typically, shifts come in three — first-, second- and third-shift staff.
So, what are the times for 1st, 2nd and 3rd shift?
The first shift includes those who come to work in the morning, usually around 8 or 9 am and stay until the early evening, usually until 4 or 5 pm.
What shift is 2nd shift? Second shift is the shift of workers who come in after the first, initial shift leaves. So 2nd shift hours usually range from around 4 pm to midnight on a typical eight-hour shift.
What is a 3rd shift? Third shift workers are those who come to work after the second shift leaves, usually around midnight. These people stay through the night until the morning when the morning shift (the next day's first shift) comes to work usually around 8 am.
What are some examples of jobs with shift hours?
Tons of people work shift hours across a wide variety of fields. Here are just a few examples of jobs with shift hours for your reference:
- Police Officers
- First Responders
- Retail Clerks
- Restaurant Staff
- Air Traffic Controllers
- Physicians Assistants
- Medical Sonographers
- Emergency Room Doctors
What are the cons of working later shifts?
Tons of people work second- and third- shifts. In fact, night owls tend to thrive during 2nd shift hours and even well into the night beyond that. There are tons of alternative night-time jobs that plenty of people would much prefer over jobs that'd have them working early morning hours.
But 2nd shift hours and beyond aren't for everyone. About two-thirds of U.S. workers experience unfavorable working conditions, according to a 2015 survey by RAND. Many of those people are working odd hours that take a toll on their mental and physical health.
1. Working shift hours can hurt your sleep schedule.
It's no secret that working shift hours can hurt your sleep schedule, especially if you don't work consistent hours. A 2007 study in the journal SLEEP confirmed this, noting that those who work shifts actually experience lower levels of serotonin than non-shift workers. Low levels of serotonin can impact your sleep quality.
2. 2nd shift hours can impair your brain function.
Of course, poor quality sleep is linked to a whole host of brain functionality issues. In 2014, a study published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine found that night-time shift workers score lower in tests assessing their memory, processing speeds and overall brain power than those who work traditional daytime hours.
3. Late-night hours like 2nd shift hours are linked to cancer in women.
Working nights has been linked to cancer in some women. Research from the American Association for Cancer Research on 61 articles comprising 114,628 cancer cases and 3,909,152 participants from North America, Europe, Australia and Asia has found that working nightshifts could heighten the risk of skin cancer by 41 percent, breast cancer by 32 percent and stomach cancer by 18 percent. The increased risk of breast cancer was only found among female nightshift workers in North America and Europe. Female nurses on nightshift, for example, had a 58 percent increased risk of breast cancer, a 35 percent increased risk of gastrointestinal and a 28 percent increased risk of lung cancer, compared to non-nightshift workers.
4. 2nd shift hours can cause physical health issues.
When you don't get good quality sleep, or you get irregular sleep, it can take a toll on your physical health. Insufficient and/or irregular sleep can lead to irregular eating habits and changes to your appetite, which can cause metabolic issues, for example. Some shift workers may develop poor diets, while others may develop higher levels of triglycerides (the main constituents of body fat in humans) than day workers. In fact, a 2009 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that shift workers actually have lower levels of leptin, the hormone that regulates weight and affects blood sugar and insulin levels.
Meanwhile shift work can also take a toll on the heart, increasing the likelihood of heart attacks, ischemic strokes and coronary events, as well as increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a research review published in the British Medical Journal.
5. Shift work can cause mental health issues.
Shift work can take a toll on your mental health, as well. Due to the disruption in your circadian system, which regulates the release of different hormones in your body, shift work can be linked to depression. A 1997 study published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health suggests that shift work indeed increases the lifetime risk of major depressive disorder (MDD). Further research published in the International Journal on Disability and Human Development in 2008 adds that “shiftwork is suggested to increase the risk of developing or aggravating mood disorders at least in vulnerable individuals.”
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.