How Atypical Work Schedules Affect Performance

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Monday, December 10, 2012

shift workers were 30 percent more likely to develop elevated blood cholesterol levels than daytime workers. (Dochi, et al, 2009) In addition, nurses who did 6 years or more of rotating night shifts were 51 percent more likely to develop coronary heart disease than those nurses who worked the day shift. (Kawachi, et al, 1995)

Obesity and diabetes
Extended disruption of darkness during the late evening and early morning hours also disrupts daily rhythms governing production of the various hormones that affect appetite, diabetes and obesity. (Scheer, et al, 2009) Consequently, several studies find that people short on sleep are more likely to be obese or develop diabetes. (Knutson and Van Cauter, 2008) In addition, some studies find those that work the night shift and/or extended hours are more likely to develop metabolic syndrome, which is a precursor to diabetes. (Violanti, et al, 2009; Biggi et al, 2008) There is also some evidence that long work hours are linked to obesity (DiMilia and Mummery, 2009)

Gastrointestinal disorders
Several studies have found a greater prevalence of gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea, constipation, or abdominal pain, among shift workers, when compared to those who work days. (Nojkov et al, 2010) One study found that rotating shift nurses were 30 percent more likely to have abdominal pain than those working the day shift, and were 17 percent more likely to have irritable bowel syndrome. (Nojkov et al, 2010) Shift workers also have a fourfold increased risk of ulcers in their small intestine. (Pietroiusti, et al, 2006)

Shift-work disorder
Between one-quarter and one-third of shift workers are unable to tolerate the effects of their work schedules and have excessive sleepiness or insomnia despite regular and adequate time in bed, and a lack of other sleep disorders. This is called shift-work disorder, and researchers have shown this disorder adversely impacts job performance, driving safety, quality of life, work satisfaction, and both physical and mental health. (Drake et al, 2004; Axelsson, 2004) For example, shift workers with this disorder are more prone to ulcers, depression, absenteeism and difficulties with family and social activities compared with shift