A recent study (May 2015) done by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, has revealed that shift workers are at more risk of becoming overweight and/or type 2 diabetic.
He points out men are more at risk due to the higher rates of men employed in shift work jobs.
As the demand for a 24 hour society is increasing, so is the need for more shift workers.
It is well known that inadequate sleep patterns are common in shift workers.
This is largely due to often working outside of the standard nine-to-five time slot, working double shifts, trying to sleep in noisy environments during the day, or simply cutting down on sleep to catch up on chores that can only be done in daylight hours.
“Alternate shift” employees are particularly vulnerable, as their jobs require them to work night, flex, extended, or rotating shifts.
This type of shift work is common for hospital workers, emergency workers, shipping and transportation workers, manufacturing and production workers.
The aim of the study was to examine the associations of shift work with type 2 diabetes and overweight status, and to explore if a history of sleep problems mediate or modifies these associations.
1593 participants took part in this survey – duration 2008 – 2012. All participants were employed in either traditional hours or shift work. Participants reported on:
- Workplace characteristics
- Sleep habits
- History of sleeping problems – insomnia, sleep disturbance, feeling sleepy when awake
Objective measures of body mass index and type 2 diabetes were used.
Summary of the Study Results
Shift workers were more over weight than traditional scheduled workers:
- 83% vs 71% with body mass index ≥25
Shift workers experienced more sleep problems such as:
- Insomnia 24% vs 16%
- Not enough sleep 53% vs 43%
- Sleepiness while awake 32% vs 24%
This outcome strongly revealed the association of shift work and being over weight or diabetic was stronger in those that reported insufficient sleep.
The findings of this study, along with the growing evidence of shift work causing extra long term health risks to employees, clearly demonstrates a need for more work place initiatives to be put in place to support employees against prevailing health issues, particularly for sufficient sleep.
It is also noted in this study that further explorations of sleep intervention are needed to address these health issues.
To view the full study – See Shiftwork, sleep habits, and metabolic disparities
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