Shift Workers More Prone to Metabolic Problems

Adding to the increasing body of research that suggests nontraditional work schedules can increase health problems, a new study found that shift workers are significantly more likely to be overweight and have poor metabolic health.

According to researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, shift work is an "occupational health risk" that may be a bigger problem for people of lower socioeconomic status.

"Shiftwork employees are particularly vulnerable to experiencing sleep problems as their jobs require them to work night, flex, extended, or rotating shifts," said study investigator Marjory Givens, PhD.

A study published in 2011 in PLOS Medicine found that women who work night shifts have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, while another recent study found that insulin levels in night workers was 40 to 50 percent higher than in day workers after meals.

Getting enough sleep may help

The current study, which included 1,593 participants, found that shift workers experienced more insomnia, insufficient sleep and excessive wake-time sleepiness. These problems were associated with an increased risk for being overweight or developing diabetes.

The good news, however, is that these health problems were diminished in shift workers who reported sufficient sleep - suggesting that enough quality rest could reverse the metabolic risk normally associated with shift work.

"More research in this area could inform workplace wellness or healthcare provider interventions on the role of sleep in addressing shiftworker health disparities," Dr. Givens said.

The study is published in Sleep Health.

Source: Elsevier

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