Night workers - just like people who work during the day - have to perform tasks that require attention, reasonable conclusions, determination and other mental abilities. Like everyone else, night workers need to perform well and succeed in their work. Many people in many different industries work at night – or late at night, which can also disrupt the circadian rhythm. This applies, for example, to factory workers, actors, musicians, television workers, programmers, journalists, doctors, nurses, military personell, diplomats and business leaders. They all often work late and irregularly.


Shift work and sleep
People who live according to a normal circadian rhythm are awake during the day and asleep at night.

But unlike most people who work during the day, night workers do not struggle to cope just with the challenges that always come with a job. They also combat the fatigue that the body – due to the natural melatonin production – is overwhelmed by when it is dark outside.

People who work at night typically need a week's time to return to the normal circadian rhythm, e.g. in connection with weekends, holidays and days off.

The circadian rhythm is produced by the brain's "internal clock", which can be affected by light that is picked up by the retina of the eye. The internal clock regulates among other things the production of melatonin, which is a type of sleep hormone produced in the brain's pineal gland at night. If the internal clock is exposed to light at night, the production of melatonin is inhibited.

Shift work and sleep glasses
A combination of sleep glasses and light therapy can help night workers to regulate their circadian rhythm and sleep pattern so that they can sleep properly during the day and can feel fresh and well-prepared for night work.

For example, if you work from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. it is a really good idea to get light therapy - e.g. via a light therapy lamp or a light visor – before arriving at work.

Then the body thinks it should be awake. Furthermore, it is a great advantage if it is possible to continue the light therapy while working. The bright light simply keeps you awake, as it contains blue light, which inhibits the production of melatonin, the body's natural sleep aid.

As soon as your night work ends you must wear sleep glasses, which block all the blue light. This leads to an increased production of melatonin, and it is therefore easier to fall asleep afterwards. Should you need to sleep for example from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., you should put on the sleep glasses as soon as your night work ends. The sleep glasses make the body slow down and get ready for sleep.

When you wake up at 5 p.m., you must immediately have light therapy for approximately 30 minutes. And then it starts all over again.

Both human life and large sums of money can be saved by introducing measures that take into account the human circadian rhythm. In the years to come, it will be a big challenge for companies and institutions to introduce these measures.

Research regarding shift-work

Below are a number of summaries/abstracts of scientific trials dealing with shift-work. The abstracts originate from medical records (copyright).