Surviving the night shift

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Working while everyone else is sleeping takes a serious toll on a person’s health. Clocking in to work nights or irregular and rotating shifts is associated with more stress and unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as being sedentary and following an unhealthy diet, which can lead to diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic health issues, new research reveals. Scientists found that people working nights or extended hours ate more fat and fewer fruits and vegetables than those who work days, a difference that can lead to weight gain.

A separate study also found shift workers are more likely to be overweight, struggle with insomnia, and get insufficient sleep on a regular basis. Scientists warn that not getting enough sleep also heightens the risk for metabolic disorders, including obesity and diabetes. “The most important message to shift workers,” says researcher Katri Hemio, “is that they should be aware of increased risk for chronic diseases, and that healthy nutrition may lower the risk.