When it comes to analyzing the health benefits of work shifts, there is nothing like the traditional nine-to-five schedule, suggests a new study.
Workers with non-traditional schedules are more likely to be overweight, experience sleep-related health problems and metabolic disorders, such as diabetes, compared to workers following traditional work schedules, the findings showed.
"Shift work employees are particularly vulnerable to experiencing sleep problems as their jobs require them to work night, flex, extended, or rotating shifts," explained lead investigator Marjory Givens, associate scientist at University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in the US.
The investigators used cross-sectional data from the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin (SHOW) collected from 2008 to 2012. In this analysis, 1,593 participants were assessed using measures from the physical examination to calculate body mass index and determine obesity or overweight status.
Shift workers were significantly more likely overweight than traditional schedule workers (47.9% vs 34.7%). They also experienced more sleep problems such as insomnia (23.6% vs. 16.3%), insufficient sleep (53% vs. 42.9%), or excessive wake-time sleepiness (31.8% vs. 24.4%).
The researchers found that those shift workers, who were not able to get sufficient sleep (seven hours per day) were more vulnerable to metabolic disorders.
"This study adds to a growing body of literature calling attention to the metabolic health burden commonly experienced by shift workers and suggests that obtaining sufficient sleep could lessen this burden," Givens noted.
The study was published in Sleep Health, Journal of the National Sleep Foundation