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Many people who work night shifts must deal with fatigue and drowsiness, which increase their risk of a workplace accident. Research suggests that working the night shift for long periods can cause long-term damage to your health.

According to the research, shift-based jobs are associated with medical conditions, including type II diabetes, heart attacks, heart disease, and cancer. The association was pointed out by scientists at the Sleep Research Centre in Surrey in the United Kingdom.

Researchers found that the disruption of shift work causes damage to the body at the most basic level. The researchers were not prepared for the extent, scale, and speed of the health damage caused by working the night shift.

The human body has its own natural clock, which is typically tuned to sleep at night and be active during the day. However, when this natural rhythm of the human body is altered by working the night shift, the circadian rhythm is thrown into chaos. This profoundly affects the human body, altering hormonal balance and body temperature. Athletic ability, mood, and brain function may be impaired.

The research was based on an analysis of 22 people who were evaluated as they shifted from a normal pattern of working in the day and sleeping at night to night-based shiftwork. Blood tests on these workers revealed that 6% of genes were timed to be active at certain times of the day. However, when the study subjects worked through the night, that genetic fine-tuning was eliminated. More than 97% of the rhythmic genes were thrown into chaos due to the change in sleep patterns.

Every organ in the body works according to a specific pattern, but that pattern was lost with shift-based work. The researchers compared the internal system of a person who works night shifts to living in a house where clocks in every room show different times. As a result, there was chaos in the house, with people performing activities at different times in each room.

Previous studies have indicated that shift workers may get too little sleep because they sleep during the wrong time of the day. Napping in the daytime because you have a shift to work at night may not result in sufficient rest. Workers who are fatigued because of disrupted sleep are less able to concentrate and more prone to work accidents.

The Night Shift Deprives Your Body Of Vitamin D

The importance of vitamin D for your health cannot be overstated. Calcium is absorbed more efficiently, and bone growth is promoted. Vitamin D deficiency causes osteomalacia (misshapen bones), in addition to other disorders like:

  • Colon cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Depression/anxiety
  • Heart Disease

Eating a Healthy Diet

One way to cope with night shift effects is to eat a healthy diet.

It is advisable to eat the same way you would during the day, even if you feel like consuming less during the night shift.

Avoid drowsiness by eating frequent light meals and healthy snacks.

Also, choose easy-to-digest foods (e.g., fruits, vegetables, bread, rice, and pasta), so your body can focus on staying awake instead of diverting resources to feeding you.

You can build a healthy diet by following these tips:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • After a long day, avoid sugary foods
  • Working the night shift means no fried, spicy, or processed foods
  • Make sure your diet contains the recommended balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat

Taking foods that work best for you to work will ensure that you don’t slip back into unhealthy habits and eat in a way that causes you to fall asleep when you shouldn’t.

You Should Consult Your Doctor If Working The Night Shift Is Causing Major Problems

Night shifts aren’t for everyone. The stress of working at night can be too much for some people’s bodies.

Tell your doctor if working the night shift is causing you too many health problems. A doctor can suggest to your employer that you work the day shift. You can greatly improve your overall health by doing so.

Most managers will try to accommodate an employee who has significant problems working the night shift.

In many cases, switching to the night shift is just a matter of practice. As with anything else, it gets easier with practice.

If you’re an employee who has been hurt during the night shift, contact our offices today.