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Effects Of Shift Work On The Paramedic

1281 words - 6 pages

Effects Of Shift Work On The Paramedic

Shift work allows for continuous services to be available on a 24-hour basis. This type of “irregular” work schedule is particularly prevalent in the healthcare industry. Among these workers are Paramedics whom form a unique part of the emergency services. As pre-hospital providers they are constantly faced with heavy workloads that are not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally taxing. Fatigue, digestive problems and family conflicts are some factors that may compromise the worker’s aptitude and possibly jeopardize patient safety and the paramedics’ health and overall well-being.

The body has its own "biological" clock the helps ...view middle of the document...

1 Shift workers should develop a ritual before going to sleep after a night shift. Make sure that family and friends are aware of and considerate of the worker's sleep hours and needs. Ensure there is a comfortable, quiet place to sleep during the day. Air conditioning, telephone answering machine, foam earplugs and good blinds are examples of devices that may improve the worker's sleep. Make time for quiet relaxation before bed to facilitate better sleep (reading, listening to music, breathing exercises, muscle relaxation techniques, etc.)

Digestive processes slow down in the evening and overnight. When this rhythm is interrupted by shift work, one’s diet may be out of sync with what their body is able to process. For example, fats will not be cleared from the blood stream as efficiently and blood sugars will not be regulated appropriately. That is why some foods that are tolerated well during the day may be troublesome if they are eaten late at night.

Research shows that shift workers often suffer from some sort of constipation, diarrhea, gas, heartburn and indigestion, which are usually aggravated by poor nutrition and irregular eating habits. To prevent indigestion or 'heartburn' consume lower fat foods that are not fried or too spicy. Foods high in sugar may provide a short burst of energy, but can wear off leaving a sluggish feeling. Drinking plenty of water and other fluids is also extremely important to prevent dehydration and combat exhaustion. Eat meals according to time of day, not your shift. If you start work in the afternoon, have your main meal in the middle of the day, rather than in the middle of your shift. If you're working nights, eat your main meal before your shift starts, preferably between 5 and 7 p.m. A snack with a little protein will provide sustained energy late at night when you start to feel tired. Try fruit with a small piece of lower fat cheese or half a small whole grain bagel with peanut butter. A late night pick-up will help keep you alert when your body is programmed for sleep. Cut down on caffeine, it stays in your system for up to eight hours which can make it difficult to fall asleep later. It's best to have caffeinated drinks before or early in your shift. 5

Shift workers suffer not only physically but also mental health issues. Mood is often affected with increases in headaches, irritability, anxiety and depression.6 These can be devastating with flow on effect to disrupt domestic and social relationships. Shift workers often miss out on social and sporting events and family gatherings, when they need to work or sleep instead. These demands can lead to feelings of frustration, isolation and depression as valuable family and personal time is lost. There has been a long known association between sleep deprivation and depression, with both conditions...

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