Shift Work

English | French

Shift Work

In today's wired world, many of us work all hours of the day or night, which affects our well-being and safety. Fatigue among shift workers is an internationally recognized problem across multiple industries.

Night workers are just as likely as day workers to perform tasks requiring attention to detail, reasoning, decision-making, and other mental skills. Many night workers don't fit the stereotype of the shift worker. Think of actors, musicians, television news anchors, computer programmers, doctors on call, diplomats, business executives, and just about anyone who works long or irregular hours.

 

What is the impact of shift work?

A night worker, even one who has slept reasonably well, is NO MORE ALERT between 2 AM and 8 AM than a day worker who has slept only 4 hours per night, 2 nights in a row. The cost of mistakes made by fatigued workers—including lost production, missed days from work, and medical costs—exceeds an estimated $100 billion annually in North America alone.

 

 

There are many indicators of shift-work related fatigue, including:

  • Wandering and disconnected thoughts

  • Headaches or stomach aches

  • Drowsiness during shift and inability to sleep after shift

  • Inattention to minor but potentially important details

  • Degraded mental abilities (including memory, decision-making, and perception)

  • Increased distractibility and irritability

 

 

What can be done to lessen the adverse effects of shift work?

Clinical research now confirms that bright light, in specific wavelengths, can help shift the internal body clock and regulate sleep patterns when used for 30 to 40 minutes upon waking. With proper use of The Litebook®, shift workers and people who work irregular hours can feel more alert, energetic, and, in turn, notice an improvement in on-the-job performance.

 

Recommendations and resources

  • BEFORE SHIFT: Use The Litebook® for 15-30 minutes at the start of your day, whatever hour that may be.

  • DURING SHIFT: Use The Litebook® for 15-30 minutes again during the first half of your shift if you feel the need for an energy boost.

  • AFTER SHIFT: Do not use The Litebook®, or get exposure to bright sunlight, at the end of your shift if that is your normal sleep time for that work cycle. The bright light will confuse your body into thinking it should be alert, when in fact you want to be gearing down for sleep.

  • AFTER SHIFT: If you will be exposed to sunlight on your way home after work, wear light-blocking glasses to shield your eyes from the blue wavelengths of sunlight. Avoiding light during this period will signal your body that it is the end of your day and enhance your ability to sleep when you return home.

  • AT HOME: Darken your environment as much as possible. Blocking out light during the rest and sleep period will greatly enhance your ability to phase shift your body clock. Avoid exposure to TV and computer monitors unless wearing Litebook® light-blocking glasses (both TVs and monitors emit high levels of blue wavelength light).

 

General usage information:

  • Position The Litebook® approximately 20 to 24 inches (30-60 cm) from your face, and offset it to a 30 to 45 degree angle, like sunlight coming in a window.

  • Direct The Litebook's® light beam at your eyes. Your eyes must be open to achieve the benefit.

  • To provide benefit, The Litebook’s® light beam is very bright – like the sun. As with the sun, you do not stare at The Litebook®, although it is not harmful to glance at it occasionally.

  • Typically, you will know when you have received sufficient light. Most feel a sense of heightened alertness, energy, and/or mood.