Recent studies over the years have consistently inferred long-term night working is damaging to one’s health. This growing awareness brings a sobering message to those working nights or those who wake-up in the middle of the evening for an early-early morning shift.
Has does your current job hinder your sleep schedule?
Not Only Night Workers
Fifty years ago, adults typically slept eight hours, and now the average is 6.5 hours.
Too many of us perceive sleep as an indulgence instead of necessity. Making excuses for not sleeping or telling yourself I’ll take a nap and then never do, only feeds the deprivation fire inside your body.
Sleep is as essential as breathing and eating. It’s when our brain evaluates the day and documents our memories. The body goes through a natural cleansing and rejuvenation process while we ‘recharge’ for the next day.
The phrase, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” may come true earlier for those who live by this motto.
What’s Happening Inside Your Deprived Sleep Body
Increased Cellular Stress – Sleep is a time for your body to repair damage caused by external and internal stressors, recharge, and regulate internal systems. Without adequate sleep, we get a build-up of free radicals which damage the cells and tissues that comprise our body. And while this cellular damage will likely go unnoticed for some time, long-term exposure to excessive free radicals has the potential to cause harm to your health.
Decreased Brain Function – Ever wonder what happens in your brain during sleep? More than you can imagine! It is working hard to process the day’s events. From creating and consolidating memories to forming neural connections and integrating complex information, your brain is anything but inactive during those non-waking hours. And not only is your brain working to create a scaffold for your knowledge, but also it is busy clearing out toxins that have accumulated from exposure to the stresses of everyday life. So, by skipping out on hours of precious sleep, you are preventing your brain from performing these necessary housekeeping tasks that keep it functioning at an optimal level.
Daytime Sleep Unsatisfying
Thanks to research, we now know even when night-workers get plenty of sleep in the day, it’s at the wrong time.
The answer lies in a particular part of the brain – the location of our most important body clock, or suprachiasmatic nucleus.
Prof Michael Hastings, from Cambridge University, who has spent 20 years working on circadian clocks, says: “All of our organs are running to this pre-programmed genetic pattern to make them do certain things at one time of day and different things at another.”
Those working at night for extended periods are more prone to serious diseases such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and cancer.
Night Time Sugar Affects
When someone eats a candy bar or drinks a sugary energy drink in the middle of the night, the sugar and fat hang around in your bloodstream longer than if you’d eaten it during the day.
High blood sugar levels can lead to type 2 diabetes, and the raised fat levels can cause heart disease. That’s why unfortunately night shift workers are about one-and-a-half times more likely to get heart disease than those who work in the day. This may also explain the high levels of obesity for those working shifts.
The Sleep “Switch.”
The Wellcome Trust has funded Professor Russell Foster and his team at Oxford University to investigate a discovery – something that has been called the sleep “switch.”
The VELPO, or ventral lateral preoptic nuclei, turns on or off the whole neural system that keeps us awake. It raises the possibility of developing a drug to allow our bodies to ignore the light/dark cycle.
HOW IT WORKS?
1. Repairs damaged cells
Activates cellular anti-stress genes and increases production of internal protective enzymes and proteins.
Helps to maintain proper functioning of the body and promotes optimal health.
2. Helps the brain recharge
Activates protective enzymes and proteins (i.e., SOD, catalase, & glutathione peroxidase) that work to clear out toxins in the brain.
May help to reduce wear and tear on the brain that is linked to impaired learning and memory.
3. Regulates hormones
Supports the adrenal and thyroid glands, two key players in regulating hormonal balance.
Helps regulate hormones involved in many functions including the stress response, energy metabolism, immune function, and blood pressure.
Reader – Tell us your experience with working nights or sleep deprivation. Have you experienced any sleep deprivation from working the night shift?