How to reduce the health risks of night shifts

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Night shift work increases the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

It disrupts the body’s circadian rhythms—the 24-hour internal “clock” that controls when you sleep and wake.

Studies have shown that eating at night alters the body’s metabolism. Specifically, it impairs your ability to process blood sugar, or glucose.

In a study from the University of Cologne in Germany, scientists suggest there may be a way to combat these effects of night shift work: limit eating to daytime.

They found that eating only during the day prevented the high blood sugar linked to night shift work.

The team tested 19 people. They underwent simulated night work conditions over two weeks. Each person was randomly assigned to receive one of two meal schedules.

One group ate meals during both the day and night. This pattern is typical of night shift workers. The other group ate only during the daytime.

The team found that night-time eating boosted blood sugar levels. High blood sugar is a risk factor for diabetes.

Eating at night increased blood glucose by 6.4% on average. Eating meals only during the daytime prevented this effect.

This study reinforces the notion that when you eat matters for determining health outcomes such as blood sugar levels, which are relevant for night workers as they typically eat at night while on shift.

If you care about sleep, please read studies about foods that could help improve your sleep quality, and this herb may help you sleep better.

For more information about wellness, please see recent studies about tea that may help you lose weight while sleeping, and results showing common sleep habit may increase your heart disease risk.

The study was conducted by Dr. Sarah Chellappa et al.

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