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Anybody forced to work this sleep destroying shift? Not long back we were told we had to go back on 3 shifts so I have to put up with it every 1 in 3 weeks. Does anyone have a particular routine they stick to that helps them sleep? I manage to get around 5-6 hours sleep (if that) so once the next night comes around I'm screwed by 3am. It's also incredibly hard to adjust back to your normal routine once you come off nights... :(

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I don't envy you. I used to work the odd night shift when I was home from uni. It was night portering at a hotel where I was waiter during the holidays.

Easy job. All I ddi was lay a few tale, and spend most of the night on the internet, playing football manager or falling asleep.

but even after 2 nights doing it, I was screwed sleep wise. So tired, and couldn't get back into a normal routine.

I'd hate to have to do it regularly

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Shift work linked to health risks

Employees working split shifts could be harming their health, Health and Safety Executive research has suggested.

A study found offshore oil rig workers who worked seven nights then seven days had a higher risk of heart disease than those who stayed on days or nights.

Split-shift workers were also more tired and inattentive, New Scientist magazine reported.

Occupational health expert Cary Cooper said involving staff in designing shift patterns reduced health problems.

People who feel they have some control over their working lives are then less likely to have illnesses

Professor Cary Cooper, Lancaster University

Researchers from Cardiff University and the University of Guildford in Surrey examined the health of 45 offshore oil rig workers.

Both compared the effect of the two main shift schedules on the men.

Over two weeks, they may have been asked to work 12 hour day-shifts or night-shifts.

But the other group worked a split-shift of seven night-shifts followed by seven day-shifts. Many preferred this pattern because it got them into the habit of night-time sleeping before they went home.

However, the researchers found it was worse for their health.

Urine tests from men working the split-shift pattern showed levels of melatonin, a hormone which regulates sleep and which is normally secreted at night, did not become synchronised to new sleep times after shift changes.

The men also had higher levels of fatty acids circulating in their blood after meals, compared with the day-shift or adapted workers, indicating they were at higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and other metabolic disorders.

'Wider implications'

Josephine Arendt, a chronobiologist from the University of Surrey, who carried out one of the studies, told New Scientist magazine: "The swing shift is the killer."

Andrew Smith of Cardiff University, who carried out the second study, said workers should try to avoid split-shifts and other schedule changes that put their body clocks out of kilter.

He said legislation which forced companies to stick to particular schedules was unlikely, but he said people who did work split-shifts could minimise the risks to their health by avoiding fatty and sugary snacks at night.

A spokesman for the HSE told the BBC News website it had invested £1m into a raft of studies into the effect of shift patterns on offshore oil-rig workers.

He added: "The offshore oil rigs represent an excellent natural laboratory with controlled conditions for work, rest, sleep and meals and it is already becoming apparent that this research will have implications in many other sectors of employment.

"When the programme is over, HSE intends to review the evidence and consider appropriate action, which could include producing guidance for both the industry and its own Inspectors on how fatigue and shift work should be managed and optimised for health, safety and performance."

Professor Cary Cooper, based at Lancaster University, said: "If you look at stress and health, people who feel they have some control over their working lives are then less likely to have illnesses."

Alison Shaw, Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation (BHF) said: "Adapting to different sleep patterns can be a problem, as they can affect melatonin - a hormone that regulates sleep, and takes some time to come back to synchronised levels after a shift switch.

"Also, access to healthy foods and adequate breaks whilst working shifts is vital. Snacking on high fat, high calorie foods and smoking can increase your risk of CHD."

Sleep 'key to longer life'

Scientists believe they may have uncovered the reason why women live longer than men - they are better sleepers.

A team from the US has found that women tend to sleep more soundly than men.

They are also less affected by the effects of sleep deprivation.

The researchers, from Pennsylvania State University, found that missing sleep can affect hormone levels and generate harmful chemicals in the body.

Lead researcher Dr Alexandros Vgontzas believes women's sleeping habits may have evolved to help them cope with crying babies and disturbed nights.

He thought it could help explain why women live, on average, several years longer than men.

The scientists studied the effects of missing two hours' sleep per night on 25 men and women aged in their 20s.

After a week, the volunteers had become drowsier and did not perform as well in vigilance tests.

Both sexes showed increased levels of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines but only men had raised levels of a chemical called tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF), which may contribute to the development of obesity and diabetes.

Dr Vgontzas said: "Women are sleeping better, so can this be one of the reasons they are living longer?

"Greater increases in TNF-alpha levels put men at greater health risks from lack of sleep."

The study showed that women had 70 minutes of deep sleep per night compared with 40 minutes for men.

In the UK, the life expectancy of women is 81 years and for men 75.

Dr Vgontzas said it was possible the seven year gap could be closed if men were able to sleep more like women.

Body clock

Neil Stanley, of the Human Psychopharmacology Research Unit at Surrey University, told BBC that it was difficult to draw general conclusions about the effect of sleep because each person varied from the next.

But he said: "We know good sleep is central to good health. It is wrong to perceive sleep as a passive state of unconsciousness, the body is doing an awful lot while we sleep."

Mr Stanley said the human body relied on a regular rhythm. For instance, the production of many hormones was closely related to the 24-hour body clock.

For this reason, shift work and the 24/7 culture was likely to have a negative impact on health because it disrupted natural body rhythms.

"We are going against nature, and if we do that, then we are always likely to have to pay a price."

The research is published in the journal Chemistry and Industry.

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If jet lag is caused by insane sleeping patterns then I have been living with it for most of my adult life. I work crazy shifts, this week I am starting work at 5-6am every day. Next week I will be finishing work at about midnight every day. Twenty four hour society dawg.

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used to work shifts at the Rover, I hated nights but it was only 4 nights so had fri, sat, sun and monday daytime free. If I wrote down the pluses and minuses of nights I would only have one negatoive and that was doing the ****! Everything else including the money was brilliant.

I used to get home, shower, wank and sleep but wake up around lunchtime but I got used to this, I used to go to the gym on the evening and then straight to work wide awake.

Friday morning used to be the Merkat pub for a few beers and breakfast

Oh yeh, other downside is **** Heart FM!!! "The Love Zone" arggghhh! repeated songs all night!!

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A long time ago we had to work 3 rotaing shifts, week each 6-2 2-10 10-6 However every 6 weeks you would cop the worst one finishing saturday morning at 6 am Then back in sunday morning for the 6-2 shift. It was a killer however being young free and single then, me and my mate solved it. We would stay up until 11 am then straight to the pub until 3 drinking plenty. Home and then to bed (not the same bed) no need for an alarm always woke up between 4:30 and 5:00, no hangover and bright as a button

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I used to do something not dissimilar to colhint - a week (m-f) of days (8-5), then a week of evenings (m-thurs, 5-midnight) then a week of nights (mon-thurs midnight to 8 am) then days again, then evenings again, but also going in on friday evening and staying and working round the clock all weekend, non-stop, till 8 am mon) and then the rest of the week off, then back to the start. It was great for the 1 week in 6 off, but the nights were the worst part. After a few months, though you got used to it. Used to go to bed when I got home, then get up at about midday, stay up till about 8 or 9, get a couple of hours kip then go in to work. Which was good in the summer, when the weather was nice.

Great when you're young and carefree. Not something to do when you're older as the disrupted sleep patterns don't do you any good in the long run.

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They put a whole load of us on swing shifts at work a few years back, it lasted about 9 months. In the end they realised we were going to kill each other pretty soonish, or lots of us would leave.

Soul destroying but they saw sense in the end. When I was doing permanent nights, it was ok but unsociable. When we went onto swing shifts, none of us knew what day of the week it was most of the time, it was horrendous. Now I never work nights, mainly earlies (6am - 2pm) with a few lates (2pm - 10pm) and I'm more than happy. I'd leave straight away if they put us back on the swing shifts but I doubt that would happen, they saw how bad it was.

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