Shift work has always been a part of working life, but in recent years there has been more emphasis on its effects on those who work shifts as we are perceived to be moving towards a ‘24-hour society’.
Much of the attention has been on the health effects which can be considerable. There is a significant body of evidence that shift work, and in particular night work, can lead to cardiovascular problems, obesity, diabetes and breast cancer. Shift work is also linked to stomach problems and ulcers, depression, and an increased risk of injury.
However, there is less attention given to the effect that night shifts can have on the work/life balance of those who work them, in particular the way it influences peoples home life and relationships. This report looks at some of the research into the social effects of night shift working and shows that it can have a considerable effect on our lives as well as our health, but that steps can be taken to help reduce the impact.