Your personal wellbeing also suffers

It is not just your physical health that is put at risk with shift work. Shift work also affects your psychological wellbeing. There is ample evidence-based research that proves shift work has negative effects on psychological health and is disruptive to social life and domestic arrangements.

In a report commissioned by the NSWNA, researchers from Monash University explored the social and domestic effects on workers of shift work.  They found shift work:

  • produces negative psychological symptoms and a higher level of sickness-related absenteeism for work;
  • can lead to increased disruption to marital relationships and increased probability of separation and divorce;
  • allows less time for participation in social and leisure activities with family and friends including reduced contact time with children;
  • can have a negative impact on children with reports of higher probability of emotional or behavioural difficulties.

These findings resonate with Donna Garland, a Midwifery Unit Manager at Bankstown Hospital.

‘Staff have reported to me that shiftwork has negative effects on their personal lives. In my time as the Midwifery Unit Manager, staff members have told me they believed shift work was one of the factors negatively affecting their marriage,’ she said.

Dianne McCarthy, NUM, Aged Care Rehabilitation Unit, Prince of Wales Hospital, agrees night shift puts serious strains on family life.

‘For a couple of days after night shift while I recovered, I would not clean, I would not cook, and there were no visitors. I would never go out when I was working night shift,’ she said.

‘When my kids were teenagers they would miss out on activities with friends because I could not go and pick them up. Saturday sports were difficult – it was dangerous for me to drive them after a night shift. The same with kids’ school functions. I would have to try and stay awake or leave early. On occasions the kids were left waiting for me when I slept through the alarm.’