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Shift work impacts your health

Working shift work changes hormone levels, which increases the risk of diabetes, obesity and heart disease, according to a new study.

Researchers found that working at night and sleeping during the day can slow down the body’s natural circadian rhythms, and the rate energy is used.

The shift work study

Researchers from Harvard Medical School tracked 10 volunteers, 5 women and 5 men over a 10 day period. The volunteers lived in a laboratory for the study and were subjected to the equivalent of working different shifts.

The volunteers slept and ate throughout the day and night, as shift workers would normally do. Researchers monitored their health, including heart rate and body temperature which indicates metabolic rate.

What the researchers found

They found a decrease in the hormone leptin which helps to regulate weight. The researchers said that reduced leptin could increase the risk of obesity and heart disease, by increasing the appetite and decreasing activity.

Researchers also found poorer glucose tolerance and decreased insulin sensitivity. In fact, 3 people who had no history of diabetes developed pre diabetic glucose levels after their ’shift work’.

In addition, daytime blood pressure levels were higher among the volunteers.

The greatest hormonal change was at its highest when volunteers were asked to sleep through the day and stay awake at night.

The research was published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

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