Night shift can impact sleep patterns

March 2, 2009 2:18:11 PM PST
Shift workers typically have higher rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. But the cause of these excess health risks remains a subject of debate. However, new research from Brigham and Women's Hospital suggests hormone disruptions in night shift workers may play a crucial role.

Ten healthy volunteers had their sleep wake cycles disrupted to resemble those of a shift workers. Researchers say the volunteers experienced changes in their stress and appetite hormones. Three people developed abnormalities in their blood-sugar levels consistent with pre-diabetes.

Doctors say these results underscore the need for shift workers to eat healthy foods and to get regular exercise.