WORLD acclaimed health experts are warning call-center agents or those who work in the business-process outsourcing (BPO) industry, against erratic sleeping patterns and unhealthy lifestyle.
Dr. Amos Pines, cofounder of the Israel Menopause Society and associate professor at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine in Tel-Aviv University, said shift working, which is usual in call centers, is considered a risk factor in occupational medicine.
“Shift working is a risk factor for many diseases—for cardiovascular diseases and also for some psychiatric diseases,” Pines said during the news briefing on the 2016 Experts’ Convergence for Health Outcomes (Echo) Summit.
He said the normal sleeping pattern (sleeping at night) is essential in restoring many functions, be it hormonal or bodily functions. For one, he said melatonin and other hormones function differently in different parts of the day, so not getting the normal sleeping pattern could have an impact on one’s health.
“If you work at night, it’s like your whole physiology is jammed. But it’s not only about working at night. If you don’t sleep at night and you don’t get your normal sleeping pattern, which is essential to restoring many functions, then you suffer,” the expert said.
Dr. Wilfred Fujimoto, professor emeritus of internal medicine at the University of Washington and visiting professor at Jichi Medical University-Saitama Medical Center, also said hormonal changes occur while sleeping.
“It’s true there are hormonal changes that occur at night, but some of those hormonal changes can shift when you normally work at night and sleep during the day,” he said.
However, Fujimoto said there are some evidences that people with erratic sleeping schedules have higher health risks.
“I think there’s some evidence that show shift work is bad. It’s particularly bad for people who often change shifts—one week they’re working on a night shift, the next week on a day shift.”
Fujimoto said if the workers in the outsourcing industry maintain only one sleeping pattern (in a graveyard-shift worker’s case, being awake at night and sleeping during the day), then health risks would not be as bad.
He said this means they should not deviate from this sleeping pattern, even on days they don’t have work.
“When they’re off work and they suddenly go back to staying awake during the day and sleeping at night, that would probably be worse than just continuously sleeping during the day,” he said.
Meanwhile, world-renowned heart-failure expert Bertram Pitt said graveyard-shift workers should not use their stress as an excuse to practice unhealthy habits, such as eating more than normal and smoking.
Some call-center agents, because of their working schedules, tend to live unhealthy lifestyles, which means they smoke more and eat more.
The three experts—together with Dr. Nassir Ghaemi, who is a professor at the Department of Psychiatry of Tufts University School of Medicine—will share their insights on the latest trends in their areas of expertise during the Echo Summit today at Marriott Hotel in Pasay City.
Fujimoto will focus his talk on the risk of diabetes in Asians, particularly Asian-Americans, while Ghaemi will discuss depression and anxiety as risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and dementia.
Pitt will present the latest trends in the use of mineralcorticoid receptor antagonists (MRA) in the management of heart failure, as well as new drug agents that can help manage the hyperkalemia, which often accompanies the use of MRAs.
Last, Pines will talk about the risk of cardiovascular diseases among menopausal women, and how the risk could be potentially reduced through hormone-replacement therapy.
Having experienced work shift change every week and working in a fixed night shift, feeling the difference, I do agree. What our industry should recognize that this lack of sleep leads to fatigue and would be a contributing factor to accidents. I hope that employers and government monitor their employees health with real concern and support shorter work time for these work schedules to give time for a person to cope by the only effective means, sleep. Remember that one debt that one cannot outrun is debt on sleep.