Working around the clock is as old as the earth itself. The reasons people stay up at night varies, but a few historical examples would be to help babies enter the world, possibly protect livestock from predators, and even to keep watch over kingdoms from possible enemies. Today people stay awake for the same reasons; however, the difference with then and now is the greater insistence on the amounts of people working in a world that never sleeps. Harrison, Y., Horne, J., Landrigan, CP., Rothschild, JM., Cronin, JW., Kaushal, R., Burdick, E., Katz, JT., Lilly, CM., Stone, PH., Lockley, SW., Bates, DW., Czeisler, CA., (2004) make a strong point that our modern societies have greater expectations and higher demands and in order to reach those demands people are cutting back on sleep. In order to keep factories humming, to keep society safe, and to cater to 24 hour economy, twenty percent of American workers are part of a group called shift workers.
A great example of a system that uses shift work is a hospital. Hospitals use many different shifts from four, six, eight, to twelve hours. The majority of the core staff work 12 hour shifts, morning and evening. According to the Circadian Website (Circadian 24/7 Work Solutions, 2016) in an 8-hour shift system, three crews are needed each day, with only one crew gaining time off. In a 12-hour system, two crews are needed while two crews are off work. This results in working 75% of the days on an 8-hour shift system, and 50% of the days in a 12-hour shift system (Circadian, 2016).
Due to the extra days off during the week, the 12 hour shift is preferred. Healthcare workers will sacrifice working a longer day to have more days off in the work week...
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...etimes it is not. Whether one enjoys working nights, or does it because it fits better with the other priorities happening in their life, or that is the only opening available at their job, every worker needs to try everything possible to do their best work and be accountable for what is required of them. Since working at night is not going to go away, there needs to be open communication at every job about good and bad things included in night shift work. Addressing concerns with management about safety, lighting, foods available, or other problems that come up is the only way changes will happen if they are needed. Listening to suggestions and offering solutions instead of complaining is one way to help improve the night shift environment. When people work together for the common good and to achieve the best results possible, it makes for a great place to work.
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