Effects of third shift on health

by Lilly Combs/Staff Writer

Third shift has many advantages and disadvantages.  Many families are drawn to this schedule because they can find more time to spend with their children.  However, this can have a negative impact on the social interaction of the families and it can also harm a person who is working thirds.  Jessica Combs, a third shift worker, that works as an x-ray technician at Anderson Hospital, said “ Sometimes lack of sleep makes me short tempered, which probably makes my children anxious around me.”  As you can see the children in the family get the brunt of the disadvantages.

Along with many social impacts on the families, there is also an impact on cognitive performance for the person working third shift.  “Sleep is essential for cognitive performance, especially memory consolidation,” according to ncbi.com, which is the National Center for Biotechnology Information.  Not getting enough sleep can affect your mood, memory, and health in a negative way. Sleep is essential for the body to function. Combs said that even though she has been working third shift her entire career, her body is still not used to enduring sleep deprivation.  This tells you that the body will never get used to or adapt to lack of sleep.

According to Dawn Hanson, corporation nurse for Greenfield- Central, there are many physical complications that stem from lack of sleep (working third shift).  These conditions can include a higher potential for cardiovascular problems, obesity, diabetes, respiratory disease, and increase in inflammation. Ultimately, lack of sleep can lead to earlier death.    

Working third shift has an extensive impact on the children in the family.   Payton Wilson, 10, has a mom who works third shift as a surgical nurse. He said that he doesn’t interact with his mom as much as he would want to.   He is also very worried about the amount of sleep his mom is receiving. “She works from 8:00-8:00 every other day. When she comes home she has a 1 year old baby to take care of.  She doesn’t get the sleep that she needs to fully function,” Payton said.

According to sleepfoundation.org, which is the National Sleep Foundation, shift work disorder can increase the risk of mental health problems.  Combs said that she has noticed that more and more her positive mood is slowly deteriorating, and that she thinks she is developing mild depression.  Unfortunately, depression is common with people who work thirds. This is yet another negative impact of working third shift.

Along with effects on the person working thirds, it can also affect the place in which they are working.  “Sleepiness leads to slower reactions and interferes with decision making,” according to the National Sleep Foundation.  This can be very dangerous for the patients who are being worked on in a hospital, because some people working in hospitals are working on very little sleep.            

There are some advantages of working third shift.  “You have the opportunity to get more money, and you don’t have to work with lots of other people and there is less drama,” said Combs.  Combs said that it also eases stress at work.

Overall, the disadvantages of working third shift outweigh the advantages.  Working third shift can be very damaging to a family’s social interaction and everyday life.   Lack of sleep makes people more susceptible to viruses because their immune system is not as strong.  So, if you were planning on working third shift in the future, make sure to contemplate the advantages and disadvantages of this.  It is not worth the health problems that would stem from sleep deprivation.