Disrupting biological rhythms

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  • Disrupting biological rhythms
    • one in five Americans are one some form of shift work
      • coren 1996
      • making decisions or operating machinery at times when there internal body clock is out of synchronisation
      • affects performance, frequent reports of fatigue, depression and illness
      • melatoin levels increase, potential for disastrous accidents
        • engineers at Chernobyl explosion at the nuclear plant were working nights
          • 4000 will die from secondary affects
      • technicians working on the challenger space shuttle working 10-12 hour night shifts for previous took weeks
        • affect their judgement and led to its disappearance
      • additional factor is that sleep is poor
        • try and sleep during the day when sun light increases serotonin
          • Tilley and Wilkinson found two hours less
        • natural desire to take part in social and family activities
        • leading to sleep deprivation
          • carcinogenic  to humans
          • Knutsson et al
            • people who worked shifts for more than 15 years were three times more likely to develop heart disease than non-shift workers
      • most lorry accidents occur between 4am and 7am
        • cortisol levels lowest in the middle of the night when body temp is lowest
          • boivin et al
    • approaches to coping with shift work
      • traditionally at Utah backwards rotating shift
        • seven days on each rotation
        • workers had high stress levels, sleep deprivation and health problems
          • reduced work productivity
      • coleman et al introduced 'forwards' shift rotation
        • 21 days on each rotation
          • takes 7 days to adjust
        • shifts rotate forward from day to afternoon to night because circadian rhythms adjust better when moving ahead than back.
          • Gordon et al used the forward rotation on Philadelphia police officers
            • 30% reduction of officers sleeping on the job
            • 40% reduction of accidents on the job
      • rest period of at least 24 hours between each shift
      • Provide time off at "socially advantageous" times like weekends whenever possible
      • Inform shiftworkers of their work schedules well ahead of time so they and their families and friends can plan activities
      • Pay attention to general physical fitness and good health habits
      • sack et al
        • planned napping during shift work reduced tiredness and improved performance
          • not popular with employers and especially not popular with employees
      • maximum sleep in the day
        • bedroom must be quiet and dark as possible
      • use of artificial light
        • Boivin found that it can reset the endogenous pacemaker
        • study exposed nurse shift worker to artificial light
    • shift workers are 60% more likely to get divorced
      • Solomon
    • Jet lag
      • example of biological rhythms being rapidly disrupted
      • jet lag is worse west to east (phase advance)
        • coren
      • recht
        • looked at us baseball teams and how their game success was effected by jet lag
        • three year period
        • teams traveling east to west won 44% of games
        • teams traveling west to east won 37% of games
          • difference due to demand on body clock
            • easier to stay up later than go to bed earlier
      • factors that affect severity
        • direction of travel
        • number of time zones crossed
        • individual differences
          • characteristics known as 'phase tolerance'
            • reinberg et al found that they can cope better with shift work/ jet travel
        • decreases with age
          • sack et al
      • Coren's technique to reducing jet lag
        • sleep well before the flight
        • adjust your flight behaviour in anticipation of the time zone
        • avoid caffeine and alcohol
        • go out into the sunlight as soon as possible
          • sunlight most effective to resynchronise your body clock
        • immediately adjust to local zeitgebers
        • melatonin tablets three days before travel and five days after arrival
          • Beaumont et al
      • reductionist
        • may be due to long hours of travel, stress, annoyance caused by other passengers and low oxygen cabin air
      • real life application
        • social cues can affect biological rhythms
          • way of coping with jet lag is to eat and sleep at the right time
          • fuller et al
            • fasting to eat and the right times helps to entrain biological rhythms

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