Night work

I’ve often thought, and at times said, that society’s trend towards 24/7 shopping is a bad idea. What is wrong with us that we can’t plan so far ahead that we need the reassurance that if we need a pint of milk at 3am we can pop down to our local village-sized supermarket or garage forecourt for one; or that we can’t be disciplined enough to wait until dawn. It is not so long ago that banks didn’t have cash machines (ATMs) and you had to plan ahead. Don’t get me wrong: I think cash machines are fantastic, but I’m less keen on so many people having to work late nights.

There is an article in today’s The Scotsman newspaper about this. These are the findings of a recent study:

THE recent Future Foundation’s report, The Shape Of Things To Come found the following:

  • UK population currently working between 6pm and 9am: 7 million (one in seven).
  • Predicted UK Population in 2020 working between 6pm and 9am: 13 million (one in four)

ATTITUDES:

  • 58 per cent of those questioned believe night working is destructive to family life
  • 67 per cent of people think that supermarkets opening 24 hours a day is a positive trend

HEALTH:

  • Night working is the equivalent of smoking 20 cigarettes a day
  • 40 per cent increase in risk of coronary heart disease
  • Eight times more likely to suffer peptic ulcer disease
  • Higher risk of developing chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Disruption of eating patterns – gastrointestinal disturbance: nausea, indigestion, constipation, bowel irritation

SAFETY

  • Night workers 50 per cent more likely to be involved in a vehicle crash

SOCIAL EFFECTS

  • Higher rates of marriage break-up
  • Social isolation – reduced friends network
  • Exclusion from the community – social and cultural events

Maybe the monastic communities got it right: a balanced, rhythmic lifestyle and diet, with respect for the hours of the day… and prayer at 3am instead of shopping.

Published by

Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 46 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Latterly, web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall. Currently on sabbatical. I am a priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, and I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir.