Medical News Today

Going to work is a part of life for people everywhere. Whether you dread your 7 AM commute or go in during the afternoon for the second shift— getting to your job is essential to your livelihood. Working to provide for yourself and your family is simply a way of life, but what if your chosen career is actually harming your health? It turns out that one shift, in particular, can be especially detrimental to your body.

Working Overnight Can Be Damaging

It’s no surprise that working the night shift can be overwhelmingly exhausting. Without your cup of espresso and favorite tunes, you might never make it through— but it turns out that this constant fight against your natural biological clock is more serious than being a little more lethargic than your first shift counterparts.

Working throughout the night can completely sabotage the synchronicity of your brain and gut, which can mean serious trouble for your digestive health.

“One of the first symptoms people experience when traveling across time zones is gastrointestinal discomfort and that’s because you knock their gut out of sync from their central biological clock,” stated Hans Van Dongen, the director of the Sleep and Performance Research Center at Washington State University.

One Study Revealed This Alarming Impact

A study completed at Washington State Univerisity revealed that your stomach pain can be directly linked to your work schedule. The study — led by Hans Van Dongen — involved 14 volunteers between the ages of 22 and 34.

These individuals were split into two separate groups. One group stayed awake three days for a simulated day shift, and they were allowed to sleep between the hours of 10 PM and 6 AM. The second group worked a simulated overnight shift for three days, and they slept between the hours of 10 AM to 6 PM.

Blood samples were then taken from each participant every three hours, and levels of cortisol, melatonin, and metabolites were measured by researchers. The results were beyond powerful.

Your Body’s Biological Clocks Are Intensely Impacted

The study revealed that it only took three days of consecutive overnight shifts to disrupt the gastrointestinal cycle by an entire 12 hours— leaving your stomach feeling rather upset.

Three overnight shifts were less impactful on the brain’s natural clock, only shifting this rhythm by two hours.

This research is extremely eye-opening when it comes to the dangers of working throughout the night and upsetting your body’s biological clocks. Studies have already proven that overnight shifts can increase an individual’s chances of developing obesity, diabetes, and even heart disease.

Further research will only strengthen our understanding of the importance of working with our biological clocks rather than against them — no matter what time of day or night you clock-in.