Short Attention Span Summary
There is a reason night shift feels like it’s going to kill you.
The main issue with night shifts was acute sleep loss, not necessarily simply being nocturnal. Night shift workers simply did not sleep enough. And the problems associated with night shift mirrored people with insufficient sleep, namely “accidents, type 2 diabetes (relative risk range 1.09-1.40), weight gain, coronary heart disease (relative risk 1.23), stroke (relative risk 1.05), and cancer (relative risk range 1.01-1.32).” I work mostly night shifts. Having a dark, quiet cool place to sleep is key to sleeping well during the day. Early on, I was more cavalier about not napping before starting a string of night shifts. After a major rollover MVC, my attitude changed. If you work nights, sleep is survival…literally.
It’s not working at night that kills. It’s insufficient daytime sleep. Getting adequate time to sleep is key to being healthy when you work nights. It’s life and death. If you are an administrator reading this and do not pay extra for your night shift workers, please reconsider based on the solid evidence that it takes a toll on your employees’ health.
BMJ. 2016 Nov 1;355:i5210. doi: 10.1136/bmj.i5210.
1Stress Research Institute, Stockholm University, SE-10691 Stockholm, Sweden firstname.lastname@example.org.
2Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands.
3Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
This review summarises the literature on shift work and its relation to insufficient sleep, chronic diseases, and accidents. It is based on 38 meta-analyses and 24 systematic reviews, with additional narrative reviews and articles used for outlining possible mechanisms by which shift work may cause accidents and adverse health. Evidence shows that the effect of shift work on sleep mainly concerns acute sleep loss in connection with night shifts and early morning shifts. A link also exists between shift work and accidents, type 2 diabetes (relative risk range 1.09-1.40), weight gain, coronary heart disease (relative risk 1.23), stroke (relative risk 1.05), and cancer (relative risk range 1.01-1.32), although the original studies showed mixed results. The relations of shift work to cardiometabolic diseases and accidents mimic those with insufficient sleep. Laboratory studies indicate that cardiometabolic stress and cognitive impairments are increased by shift work, as well as by sleep loss. Given that the health and safety consequences of shift work and insufficient sleep are very similar, they are likely to share common mechanisms. However, additional research is needed to determine whether insufficient sleep is a causal pathway for the adverse health effects associated with shift work.
Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://group.bmj.com/group/rights-licensing/permissions.
PMID: 27803010 [PubMed – in process]