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How Night Shifts Perpetuate Health Inequality

In many professions it is impossible to avoid working the night shift. Unfortunately, it is also impossible to ignore the many dangers and health risks associated with sleep deprivation and disruption. The Atlantic recently provided an outline of the dangers posed by this practice and proactive measures that can be taken reduce the damage.

I have written at length about the importance of healthful and rejuvenating sleep. Human beings have been sleeping at night since time immemorial and light exposure can easily disrupt normal sleep cycles. Your pineal gland produces melatonin roughly in approximation to the contrast of bright sun exposure in the day and complete darkness at night.

Your health depends on a regular light-dark cycle that, ideally, starts and stops at the same time each day. Night shift work greatly increases the dangers of light pollution as it can severely disrupt circadian rhythms. Late night artificial light exposure can profoundly influence your physical and mental health and well-being. There are strategies that can minimize the damage of night shift work. It may seem challenging at first but the primary goal should be to create a sleep environment that is completely free of light during daylight hours. Blackout drapes are an excellent starting point but removing electronic lights is also crucial.

I highly recommend investing in a pair of blue blocker sunglasses. I call them reverse sunglasses and wear them in most commercial buildings. Artificial blue light should be avoided at all times and these affordable glasses reduce the harmful impact of high intensity and LED lighting.