Shift work is work that takes place on a schedule outside the traditional 9 am – 5 pm day. It can involve evening or night shifts, early morning shifts, and rotating shifts. Many industries rely heavily on shift work, and millions of people work in jobs that require shift schedules.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
When asked, people state many reasons for working on shift schedules. For example:
Unfortunately, shift work can also be very disruptive to a person’s health and wellbeing. In a 2008 National Sleep Foundation poll, only 63% of shift workers (versus 89% of non-shift workers workers) said their work schedule allows them to get enough sleep.
They were significantly more likely to sleep fewer than 6 hours on workdays, to work more hours per week on average, and to experience drowsy driving at least once a month in the previous year.
Not all shift workers suffer from sleep issues. But, approximately 10% of night and rotating shift workers are thought to have a sleep disorder known as shift work disorder
Shift work is also linked to additional problems with physical and mental health, performance, and safety.
It’s important that shift workers learn specific techniques for improving sleep and managing schedules, to allow for