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Answer to your Health Question

Question (03/12/2011):

Dr, for last 7 years I am working in a Night Shift, but I get a good sleep in the morning time.

My weight is went up by 20 KG is this will cause me any health issues.



Dear Mohamed ,

When you are awake at night and asleep during the day, your body does not receive powerful biological cues from the amount of light in the environment.

These cues are necessary to regulate the circadian rhythms that control your sleep/wake cycle.

This causes difficulty in falling asleep and getting enough deep sleep. An additional problem is switching from a night schedule to a day schedule on days off, or during changes in your work shift. This switching causes the same effects as jet lag.

For most people it is more difficult to sleep during the day.

About one in five workers do shift work, and working non-standard hours has been firmly linked to a number of mental and physical health problems.

Working nights disrupts normal circadian rhythms.

A person working the night shift is at greater risk of various disorders, accidents and misfortunes, including:

-Increased likelihood of obesity
-Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
-Higher risk of mood changes
-Increased risk of gastrointestinal problems, such as constipation and stomach discomfort
-Higher risk of motor vehicle accidents and work-related accidents

Researchers have learned that circadian rhythms-the 24-hour cycles that keep our bodies on time-are involved in sleep, weight gain and mood disorders.

Circadian rhythm regulate energy and in turn weight gain in humans.

Circadian rhythms are daily cycles based on a 24-hour period and they are strongly influenced by regular changes in the environment such as night and day.

The circadian rhythm also governs the flow of hormones and temperature fluctuations.

Cortisol and weight gain are almost always going to be found together.

Cortisol concentration changes daily. Cortisol is the most potent glucocorticoid produced by the human adrenal. This peaks during the morning hours when glucose is needed for activity and reaches its low point late in the evening.

Working in a Night Shift involves having cortisol peaks when you are going to sleep.

In order to work at night shift and stay healthy try to do:

-Don't eat a huge meal right at the end of your shift. It will just sit in your stomach as you try to sleep, leading to trouble digesting as well as disrupted slumber. Your body will have difficulty burning these extra calories and they can turn to fat.

-Drink plenty of water throughout your shift. Dehydration can cause cramps and headaches, which can make your shift very unpleasant.

-Fuel up on complex carbs (oatmeal, bran and brown rice.); these will release energy slowly over a long period of time, versus quick sugar bursts that won't last too long. Also, protein will fuel your muscles throughout the night.

-Time your meals and activities to match your "day."

-On-the-job exercise can boost your alertness. If you have an extra break where you can get in a few minutes of a good workout, take advantage! If you can't exercise at work, try doing it at other times. This will create better daytime sleep. A word of caution: Don't work out right after you get home, before going to sleep. It will wake you up and make snoozing difficult. Try working out before you go to work instead.

-Exposure to bright light will also improve your alertness. Obviously, if it's dark out, this can't come from a natural source. Turn on the lights!

-Music helps to break up the monotony of a long shift. If you are allowed, bring in your own music. Use fast-paced sounds to pump you up when you are dragging towards the end of the shift.

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