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Cardiovascular diseases and Co: night and shift work endangers health

Cardiovascular diseases and Co: night and shift work endangers health


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Shift work: Night work in particular can be dangerous

For years, scientific studies have repeatedly shown that regular shift work can lead to health problems. For example, it is known that this increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Night work in particular can be dangerous.

While other people are sleeping or partying, many shift workers have to do their jobs. Those who work shifts, for example in hospitals, are not only tired over the long term, but also put a strain on their health. Those affected should therefore observe some tips from experts.

Night work is "probably carcinogenic"

What are the dangers for people who work night and shift work? According to Prof. Ingo Fietze, head of the Interdisciplinary Sleep Medicine Center at the Charité Berlin, diseases of the cardiovascular system such as high blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmias - at least as far as frequency is concerned.

Metabolic diseases follow in second place.

Above all, night work poses even more dangers, as an evaluation by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization (WHO) from 2019 shows:

"Based on what we now know, we came to the conclusion that night work is likely to be carcinogenic," explains Prof. Hajo Zeeb from the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology (BIPS) in Bremen, who worked on the evaluation.

But why does night work hurt us? "The immune system also recovers at night," explains Fietze. Those who work at night and sleep during the day have a less well-functioning defense system. This also applies if you want to catch up on sleep as well as possible during the day: "The quality of sleep is getting worse during the day and you sleep shorter," says Fietze.

Some get along better than others

Some people get along with it, others don't. "There are still no predictors of who can work shifts and who can't," says Fietze. According to the expert, there are many warning signals that night work and shift work are not available:

You are not focused, mistakes or accidents happen, you are mentally and physically inefficient, you are in a bad mood or your memory is weakening.

On the other hand, it is normal that shift work makes you tired, says Fietze. “As long as shift workers sleep well on several days off or on vacation, the world is still in order. If you sleep just as badly during these times as during the working week, that's a serious warning signal. "

People who already have sensitive or poor sleep, chronically ill people who have another job or are very familiar with the family should not work shifts.

Larks in the early shift

Most people are known as owls: they would like to go to bed between 11:30 p.m. and 2 a.m. and get up again between 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., explains Hans-Günter Weess, psychologist and director of the sleeping center at the Palatinate Clinic.

It would therefore be good if people who were early risers anyway - the so-called larks - took over the early shifts. The late risers then do the late and night shift.

When working in alternating shifts, it is better, according to Weess, to work in short-rotating shifts: two days early shift, two days late shift, two days night shift and then a longer break.

"This way the body doesn't even start to adapt," explains Weess. Anyone who takes on a shift for about a week at a time is in a kind of permanent jet lag, which is more burdensome in the long term. (ad; source: dpa / tmn)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


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