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One in 10 night shift workers show serious symptoms: study

A group of researchers from the Netherlands and Belgium has gathered data on the work and sleep patterns of 37,662 individuals, categorizing them based on whether they worked during the day or night.

The researchers identified six main sleep disorder categories through surveys — insomnia, hypersomnia (excessive daytime sleepiness), parasomnia (abnormal movements or dreams), sleep-related breathing disorders, sleep-related movement disorders, and sleep-wake rhythm disorders.

Marek Lancel, a sleep scientist from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, highlighted the findings, stating, “Compared to those working regular daytime shifts, individuals engaged in other types of shifts, particularly night shifts, exhibited a higher prevalence of sleep disturbances.”

Lancel emphasized that 51 percent of night workers reported experiencing at least one sleep disorder.

He further noted, “The impact of shift work on sleep is more pronounced in younger individuals with lower educational levels.” The study reinforced the existing association between irregular working hours, particularly during the night, and various health issues such as diabetes, cancer, and depression. It underscored the challenge night shifts pose in maintaining a healthy sleep routine.

The researchers emphasized the prevalence of night work in modern society and called for increased awareness among employers regarding its health implications.

They urged employers to provide tools and guidance to mitigate the adverse effects of shift work.

According to their publication in the scientific journal Science Alert, the researchers recommended, “Rotating shifts are generally recommended,” with an emphasis on fast work schedules, minimizing night shifts, and incorporating sufficient rest days in between to allow recovery from accumulated sleep deficits.



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