Various Health Problems Risks Faced by Night Shift Workers

Most office workers are required to work from morning to evening. On the other hand, some professions may require workers to have working hours that are reversed from night to morning. For example, doctors and nurses on duty at the emergency room, pilots and flight attendants, or 24-hour shop and restaurant clerks. Agreeing to work the night shift means that you have to be willing and able to stay up all night. In addition, shift work schedules are also often associated with the risk of serious health problems.

Why does night shift work increase the risk of illness?

Night shift work will certainly change your routine. What should be time for you to rest and sleep, instead you use it to work and even eat. On the other hand, at times when your body is supposed to be doing important activities like moving and digesting, you’re sleeping.

Over time, routines like this will make the body’s biological clock a mess. The biological clock or circadian clock works to follow any changes in human physical, mental, and behavioral activity in a 24-hour cycle. A person’s biological clock determines sleep cycles, hormone production, body temperature, and various other vital body functions.

The circadian clock also plays a role in regulating when the body must produce new cells and repair damaged DNA. All the effects of changes in the biological clock of course also change the body’s metabolism. You find it more difficult to sleep well (insomnia), often fatigue that doesn’t seem to recover, to other health problems such as digestive disorders ranging from stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and heartburn, to the risk of injury and accidents. In the end, night shift work can reduce the quality of life and work productivity.

Long-term health effects of night shifts

Reporting from WebMD, scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) revealed that disruption of circadian rhythms can interfere with two tumor suppressor genes that trigger the development of chronic diseases, such as cancer.

Researchers have found an interesting link between shift workers and an increased risk of serious health conditions.

Cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease

A review study of various studies found that the risk of cardiovascular disease in night shift workers appeared to increase by up to 40 percent.

The risk will increase the longer you fly. The risk of stroke increases after a person has worked shifts for 15 years. One study found that stroke risk increased by five percent every 1 additional year of shift work.

Diabetes and metabolic disorders



Shift work is a risk factor for diabetes. One study found that shift workers had a 50 percent higher risk of developing diabetes than day workers. This risk occurs in those who work shifts for 16 hours.

Shift work is also associated with metabolic disorders, a combination of health problems such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, obesity and high cholesterol levels. It is a risk factor for diabetes, heart attack, and stroke. The risk of metabolic disorders is three times more in people who work night shifts.



There are several possible reasons for the association between obesity and shift work. Poor diet and lack of exercise may be the cause. Hormone balance also seems to play a role.

The hormone leptin, which regulates appetite, makes you feel full. Because shift work seems to lower leptin levels, shift workers often feel hungry. As a result you eat more than day laborers.

Depression and mood disorders

Depression and mood disorders

Several studies have found that shift workers are more likely to experience symptoms of depression and other mood disorders.

Working shifts can also directly affect brain chemistry. One study reported that when compared to day workers, night workers had lower levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that plays a role in regulating mood.

Fertility and pregnancy disorders

Working shifts can affect the female reproductive system. One study looked at flight attendants, who usually work in shifts. The results showed that flight attendants who worked shifts were more likely to have miscarriages than flight attendants who worked normal hours.

Shift work appears to be associated with an increased risk of complications during labour, premature and low birth weight babies, fertility problems, endometriosis, irregular periods, and painful periods.



There is some evidence, from both human and animal studies, that shift work poses an increased risk of cancer.

Two analyzes of data from various studies found that working nights increased the risk of breast cancer by up to 50 percent. Shift work on airplanes, such as pilots and flight attendants, increases the risk by up to 70 percent.

In addition, shift work can also increase the risk of colorectal and prostate cancer. So far, studies show that cancer risk rises only after years of shift work, perhaps as long as 20 years.

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