Healthiest Shift Work Schedule | 4 mins read

What is the Healthiest Shift Work Schedule For Your Age Group?

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Lauren Christiansen

By Lauren Christiansen

Healthiest Shift Work Schedule for Your Age

Age brings more real-life experiences and an increase in wisdom. It also comes with a bad back and sleep problems. It's not as easy to drink 5 beers, receive 4 hours of broken sleep, and trudge into work the next morning. Older adults require more rest, healthier diets, and more exercise. They also don't necessarily want to work a swing shift schedule that requires long night shifts and less time with family members.

A person's age impacts one's priorities and the type of work one wants to do. Because swing shifts and rotating schedules wreak so much havoc on circadian rhythms and mental health, they aren't always healthy for certain age brackets. On the flip side, younger adults may have a harder time working early day shifts, as these individuals tend to perform better when they sleep in. Read ahead to understand the healthiest shifts for each age group.

1. Healthiest Shift Work Schedule for Teenagers and Young Adults

Experts have found that young adults' brains are similar to childrens'. Children require better sleep at night and won't function well in the early morning without it. Young adults prefer to go to sleep at a later hour and wake up at a later hour. Later work hours may be preferable for this age bracket.

Unfortunately, office jobs don't typically accommodate this preference. Young adults who want to come in around 9 a.m or 10 a.m. will probably have to find a position in retail or the restaurant industry.

  • The number of employee youth 16 to 24 increased by 4.4 million to 17.5 million year
  • Nearly 50 million millenials are working in the United States today
  • Manufacturing is surprisingly one of the largest sectors for millenials in the United States

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2. Healthiest Shift Work Schedule for Mid-20's to Mid 30's

Studies show that when sleep preferences match work schedules, employees work more efficiently and have higher satisfaction rates. This is particularly true younger and older millennials. Research demonstrates that preferences align with genetic makeup. Regardless of age, shift workers who work night hours or have unusual rotating schedules have greater mental health problems.

The body is not meant to stay awake during the evening, especially if it's on a regular basis. Certain diseases correlate to evening work hours. If a young adult has a parent with a health condition, it's better for that individual to work a normal shift schedule There is some good news, however.

Employees who worked a late night shift years earlier will not have any impact on cognitive function later on. While it can take up to 5 years for the brain to recover from late night shift work, the brain automatically recovers over time.

3. Healthiest Shift Work Schedule for Those Over 40

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Anyone over 40 will find it harder to work rotating shifts or swing shifts. These individuals require more sleep time and a shorter work week to maintain their health. Experts show that a 25 hour work week or three days a week is best for these adults. However, those who work fewer than 25 hours also fare poorly. Studies show that adults need to work 25 hours a week in some capacity or another to maintain peak cognitive function.

This doesn't necessarily mean that an individual needs to go into an office. As long as adults over 40 exercise their mind in some capacity or another, they should be fine. Volunteer work, hobbies, and activities that stimulate brain activity are enough to decrease stress, increase happiness, and enhance brain functionality.

4. Too Much Shift Work Isn't Good for Anyone

Anyone who works more than 60 hours per week is at risk for anxiety, depression, burnout, and fatigue. This is particularly true for women. Studies show that these types of work schedules lead to higher incidence of diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular problems. Heart disease and stroke are other possible side effects from too much work per week.

However, experts need to conduct more research to know the exact impact of long hours on certain age groups. It appears that younger adults are more apt to cope with longer hours, but are still at risk for health and sleep problems.

  • 83% of employees suffer from work-related stress
  • Stress causes roughly 1 million employees to miss work every day
  • Depression leads to 51 billion in costs due to absenteeism
  • Only 43% of employees think their employers care about their work life balance

Online employee scheduling software that makes shift planning effortless.
Try it free for 14 days.

Key Takeaways of Healthiest Shift Work Schedule for Your Age

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In conclusion, here are the best schedules for each age bracket -

  • Teens and young adults fare better when they sleep in later and wake up later. A work schedule that accommodates this preference is difficult to find. These individuals may prefer to work in the restaurant industry or retail if they have a difficult time waking up in the morning.
  • Younger and older millennials under 40 perform better when their sleep preferences match their work schedules. A normal 9-5 schedule is preferable for these individuals. Certain work schedules impact physical conditions, particularly if an individual has a genetic predisposition.
  • Adults over the age of 40 perform better when they work no less or greater than 25 hours. Working less than 25 hours impacts cognition and mental health, but working more than 25 hours impacts the sleep cycle and causes physical problems.
  • Those who work more than 60 hours per week are at higher risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and more. Experts need to conduct more research to assess how long work schedules impact people by age bracket.

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