(This is Erin- this story is for me and maybe some of you too, so pay attention: Night shifts are a health hazard!)
New studies have found that people who do shift work, those who bounce between sleeping at night and sleeping during the day, have higher risks of coronary artery disease, diabetes, weight gain, and some cancers. And for those who have worked a decade of shift work, their brains show cognitive decline years in advance. Yikes.
How Night Shifts Perpetuate Ill Health
From the article:
“The more we learn about sleep, the more we learn the importance of consistency. It’s not just about how much you sleep, it’s about when. For diurnal people, that means getting up and going to bed around the same time, even on weekends.
“Avoid Frequently Rotating Shifts”
So the bigger issue is picking a shift and sticking with it; even the Cleveland Clinic tells their patients “avoid frequently rotating shifts”. But:
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the additional risk of cancers in shift workers “may be explained by the disruption of the circadian system that is caused by exposure to light at night. This can alter sleep-activity patterns, suppress melatonin production, and disregulate genes involved in tumor development.” But if you get into a consistent groove of night shifts, you should be able to manipulate light with blackout curtains and lamps.”
But, they also recommend patients “decrease the number of night shifts worked in a row” because the International Agency for Research on Cancer has listed night shifts as “probably carcinogenic”.
If you aren’t in a position to change your shift, then make sure you are ALWAYS going to bed at the same time, even on the weekends- whatever yours are (you know if you have M-W off, say). But, if you are able, sleeping at night is best and healthiest for your body.
Source: The Atlantic