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Shift Work Has Long-Term Negative Health Consequences - SciTechDaily

Shift Work Has Long-Term Negative Health Consequences - SciTechDaily

Shift Work Has Long-Term Negative Health Consequences - SciTechDaily
Aug 16, 2022 1 min, 57 secs

However, shift work might have worse consequences than we previously believed.

According to a recent study published in the journal Neurobiology of Sleep and Circadian Rhythms, the negative consequences of shift work might last for a long time, even after returning to a regular schedule.

“Shift work, especially rotating shift work, confuses our body clocks and that has important ramifications in terms of our health and well-being and connection to human disease,” said David Earnest, professor in the Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics at the Texas A&M University College of Medicine.

Earnest and colleagues discovered found animal models with rotating shift work schedules had worse stroke outcomes in terms of both brain damage and functional impairments than those with typical 24-hour cycles of day and night.

“What was already born out in epidemiological studies is that most people only experience shift work for five to eight years and then presumably go back to normal work schedules,” Earnest said.

“We wanted to determine, is that enough to erase any problems that these circadian rhythm disruptions have, or do these effects carry over even after returning to normal work schedules?”.

They found that the health impacts of shift work do, indeed, persist over time.

The sleep-wake cycles of subjects on shift work schedules never truly returned to normal, even after subsequent exposure to a regular schedule.

The researchers also observed increased levels of inflammatory mediators from the gut in subjects exposed to a shift work schedule.

In the meantime, shift workers can improve care of their internal body clocks by trying to maintain a regular schedule as much as possible and avoiding a diet high in fat, which can cause inflammation and also alter the timing of circadian rhythms.

“Even those of us who do work regular schedules have a tendency to stay up late on the weekends, producing what is known as ‘social jet lag,’ which similarly unwinds our body clocks so they no longer keep accurate time.

To avoid some of these health hazards, Earnest says the best approach is to maintain a regular schedule of awake time, sleep time, and mealtimes that doesn’t vary drastically from day to day.

Reference: “Sex differences in the diathetic effects of shift work schedules on circulating cytokine levels and pathological outcomes of ischemic stroke during middle age” by David J.


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