In a typical shift work schedule, workers may be scheduled to work for 8 hours in a day comprised of three 8 hour shifts. In another shift work schedule, workers may be subject to work for twelve hours for 4 days, and then 4 off days. Experts point out that shift work schedules, which allow employees to work on the same shift for a prolonged period, are healthy and effective in enhancing employee’s lifestyle and social life. Any attempt to change the shift schedule disrupts employees’ life patterns (Brain, 2001).
Poorly planned shift schedules have contributed immensely in reduced productivity and increased medical complications at work places. The human body is controlled by a circadian cycle, which is a natural clock that plays a role in maintaining complex body functions throughout the day. Different physiological body functions change depending on specific times of the day creating what is known as circadian rhythms. Therefore, circadian rhythms change after every 24 hours by prevailing environmental cues. Naturally, the human body is designed to remain active during the day and the rest through sleep during the night. The reverse is contrary to the circadian cycle, and it is the cause of sleep related problems faced by night shifters (Brain, 2001). To avoid consecutive night shifts, night shifts should be accompanied by a sufficient period of rest, creating short night shifts, making changes that will allow employees to adapt as quickly as possible and avoiding morning shifts that start too early.