[shiftworker online]

July/August/ September  1999 Issue 10 Shiftworker Online

News Headlines. Canada.  USA.
Weather. Canada.  USA.
Current Scores.
from USA Today.
from Sportsline.
Word of the Day.
from Reader's Digest.
Picture of the Day.

This Day in LIFE

Book of the Month.
The Poetry Archives: Rudyard Kipling
Enter a Room.

Welcome to Issue # 10 of the Shiftworker Online.

Bookmark this page for easy access to News, Weather and Sports and Shift Work related information.

In this issue:

Previous Issues
#1 Jan./Feb. 1998

#2 Mar./Apr.1998

#3 May/June 1998

#4 July/August 1998

#5 Sept./Oct. 1998

#6 Nov./Dec. 1998

#7 Jan./Feb. 1999

#8 March/April 1999

#9 May/June 1999

The Key to Circadian Rhythm

The body has more than 100 circadian rhythms, such as blood pressure and mental performance. All of them interact with one another.


An internal biological clock regulates many human physiological systems. Alertness, mental and physical performance, mood, and many other functions vary regularly and predictably over a 24-hour cycle. This variation is called the circadian rhythm. Employees on night shift are asked to perform at peak efficiency while at the lowest point in their circadian rhythm; they need to be alert and vigilant precisely when the biological clock is sending strong signals for the body to sleep. Compounding this problem is the fact that the high point in the circadian rhythm is reached during the day, making it difficult for night workers to sleep.

The biological clocks of shiftworkers do not adjust to their schedules, even after years on the job. Night after night they find themselves fighting the urge to fall asleep on shift, while during the day their sleep is brief and restless. Over time these two effects combine; the biological urge to sleep on night shift is exaggerated by poor daytime sleep.

Working out of phase with the biological clock can have serious consequences in the workplace:

Productivity is impaired. The performance of routine tasks becomes more difficult; reaction times slow significantly, and judgment is diminished. Operator errors at night are twice as frequent as during the day, resulting in more rework, lower quality, and higher product costs. In some industries, productivity on the night shift has been measured to be as much as 30 to 40 percent lower than during the day; the cost to industry is billions of dollars.

Safety is compromised. The higher likelihood of operator errors can endanger processes, equipment, employees, and even public safety. For example, the nuclear-power industry reports twice the average rate of operator errors between midnight and four in the morning.

Personnel costs are higher. Medical bills increase because shiftworkers are much more likely to suffer from cardiovascular, digestive, and other disorders. Shiftworkers also experience more frequent headaches, fatigue, stress, muscle pain, respiratory infections, and general malaise. Personnel costs are further increased as a result of higher rates of employee turnover and increased absenteeism.

Employee quality-of-life suffers. Higher rates of divorce and suicide, as well as increased use of alcohol and drugs, have been documented among shiftworkers. Frustration, low morale, and diminished job satisfaction are also more common.

Daily Rhythm and Sleep Disorders

The 24 hour cycle of sleep and wakefulness can become disturbed in several ways. The most extreme way to disturb your sleep cycle is with shift work but even people who work normal day shift hours can experience sleep problems. Researchers have found that exposure to bright light can help correct some of those disturbances by resetting the person's daily rhythms.

Normal Sleep Pattern - person goes to bed at 11:00 pm and wakes at 07:00 am

Advanced sleep phase syndrome - the rhythm of people with this syndrome is shifted forward into the evening. They may awaken in the early morning.

For example, person is sleepy at 08:00 pm but goes to bed at 11:00 pm and wakes at 04:00 am

Delayed sleep phase syndrome - these people find it difficult to fall asleep until late at night. In the morning, they have difficulty waking up and may experience day time sleepiness.

For example, person is goes to bed at 1:00 pm but is not sleepy , has trouble falling asleep and wakes at 09:00 am

There is Hope

Researchers have recently discovered that eye pigment controls our 24-hour circadian rhythm. The discovery may lead to new ways to treat disorders, relieve jet lag and help night shift workers.

Cryptochrome and the eye

Scientists previously thought that circadian rhythm was controlled by pigments in the rod and cone cells of the retina, the light sensitive layer in the rear of the eyeball. The new theory is that cryptochrome, a pigment found in cells other than the rods and cones, is the key to the body's circadian rhythm.

A structure in the brain called the " suprachiasmatic nucleus" receives signals from the retina and directs the body's daily cycles.

The newly discovered pigments, CRY 1 and CRY 2, absorb blue light as it passes through several layers of the cells in the retina.

The pigments allow animals and humans to synchronize their circadian clocks with environmental events, such as changes in light.

Signals from the eyes to the brain's suprachiasmatic nucleus, which maintains the body's 24 hour internal rhythm.

Adapted from research by Mayerline Michel and ShiftWork Systems Inc.


By Eli Bay

In a world changing so incredibly fast, in a time in which the old certainties are no more, many people are starting to feel that the world is degenerating into chaos. Depressing visions and images of the future are starting to become fashionable in some circles. This trend should concern all of us. What we, as societies, believe will happen—our collective mindset— plays a significant role in shaping outcomes in the future. Emerging as self-fulfilling prophecies down the road, what we think and believe today becomes our reality tomorrow. If we allow our minds to stay locked into fear and negativity (however rational it may appear to the left brain), we are working against our personal and collective, short and long term interests. This toxic thinking is also responsible for creating many of our common stress-related symptoms and illnesses.

It is instructive, therefore, to learn that a new field of modern physics dealing with the study of chaos has discovered that what appears to be breakdown at one level is actually a stage in a process which is reorganizing the system. Suddenly a new order emerges out of the chaos, reintegrating the system at a higher level. These leaps occur in chemical processes, in ecological systems, in cities, in the brain, in our societies. What appears to be breakdown is part of the natural restructuring which inevitably precedes a breakthrough to a higher order of organization.

As our society rapidly restructures, familiar and comfortable belief systems and institutions disappear overnight. Certainly this letting go of the old is unsettling and stressful. But rather than reacting only with heightened adrenaline, let us respond in a way that anticipates the dislocation and uncertainty because that is the way the world is and will continue to be from now on. Rather than interpreting this restructuring as chaos and degeneration, we will do ourselves and our society a great service by reframing the situation.

Let us recognize the extraordinary potential we have for creating a new, more fulfilling, and healthy society for the twenty-first century. If we can keep a perspective on the big picture and contextualize the breakdown, confusion and turbulence as the preceding act in a drama of societal evolution, we may stay reasonably centred, balanced and healthy in a time of unprecedented stress and change.

Staying well in the midst of today's rapidly changing environment is now everyone's challenge. We would be wise to direct our personal focus upon achieving a reasonable balance in life. That means taking the time out of hectic lifestyles to both exercise and relax away the day's accumulated stress. That also means eating sensibly. But perhaps of greatest importance to well-being is sustaining a positive mental and emotional state in the midst of this turbulence. Wide-ranging research is making us aware that excessive melancholy, anger, anxiety, stress, aggression, and other negative emotions play a major role in illness and create deterioration in the quality of our lives.

It is challenging to be positive and optimistic when we can find so many reasons to be anxious and frightened. Even our bodies think that being anxious and ready to fight or to run is a normal state. But if you begin to look for reasons to be positive you can find much to cheer you on. In science, there are so many breakthroughs that a significantly new view or paradigm of the way the world works has emerged. In medicine, we understand that through the neuropeptides like endorphins there is a direct mindbody interaction; that thoughts, for example, can effect the immune system. In biology, morphogenics explains how fields shape evolutionary development and may be consciously influenced. In physics, quantum researchers have arrived at conclusions that question several fundamental assumptions of materialism. Their theories sound surprisingly like the spiritual teachings of the world's religions that teach us that as we think, so we become.

It is easy to be buried by stress and to fall into negativity and despair. If we seek health, we must consciously strive to recognize and let go of negative emotions as they emerge — not to wallow in them even though they may be familiar and comfortable. Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote that the measure of one's mental health is the amount of good that one sees. Our challenge is to seek information and experiences and interpretations that can help us to stay positive and healthy.

One practical technique to switch off negative states fairly quickly is to breathe them away. If you're angry or distressed or depressed or just feeling drained and worn out, try this:

Sit in a reclining padded chair or lie down on a carpeted floor or on a bed. Loosen your belt or buttons at your waist. Unplug the phone and tell others not to disturb you. Close your eyes. Begin breathing in through your nose and guide the air down into the bottom part of your lungs ... Let your abdomen fill with air and then allow your lungs to fill from the bottom to the top, filling your entire torso with air, from your hips to your neck ... Then slowly let the air out through either your nose or your mouth, and letting go of any tightness or tension as you exhale... Continue to breathe in this way, filling your lungs slowly from bottom to top, and letting go with each out breath ... ( for five or ten or fifteen or more minutes).

This redirects the flow of hormones through the endocrine system and releases endorphins. It also acts as a switch that turns on the parasympathetic nervous system and shuts down the "fight or flight" reaction we popularly called stress. If accessed regularly, this restful and revitalizing state of relaxation produces a more positive and balanced mind and body that can form the foundation for a healthier worldview. So: Don't Worry; Be Happy, Relax. Try it and see for yourself.

Mini "I Need Sleep" Tarts

You won't loose any sleep with this quick and easy low fat recipe.

What you Need

8 whole Single Serve Graham Cracker Crusts

8 ozs fat-free cream cheese, softened

14 ozs fat-free sweetened condensed milk

1/2 c lemonade, canned, thawed

4 drops red food coloring

1 1/2 c Cool Whip(r) Free, thawed

In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, lemonade, and food coloring.

Mix until well blended and smooth.

Gently fold in whipped topping.

Spoon into eight 4-1/2 x 1-1/4" crusts.

Chill 3 hours before serving.

321 Calories; 7g Fat (18% calories from fat); 8g Protein; 59g Carbohydrate; 11mg Cholesterol; 331mg Sodium

Note: Refrigerate leftovers.

Serving Ideas: To serve, top with fruit or candies.

Makes 8 servings.

Adapted from Borden Kitchens

That’s it for this issue.

Bye for now!!!

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If you have any comments or questions,
Please E-MAIL me at rlaird@ican.net