[Paleopsych] NS: Mess with the body clock at your peril
checker at panix.com
Sat Apr 23 23:41:18 UTC 2005
Here are some articles for today.
Mess with the body clock at your peril
* 23 April 2005
* Helen Phillips
THE way patterns of shift work are organised could be causing major
health problems, according to a pair of reports commissioned by the UK
government body that regulates workplace safety.
The reports, prepared for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), show
that offshore oil workers adopting the most popular shift pattern have
a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes. This pattern also makes
workers more tired and inattentive, increasing the chance of accidents
Chronobiologist Josephine Arendt and her team at the University of
Surrey in Guildford and psychologist Andrew Smith and colleagues at
Cardiff University in Wales separately studied the physiological and
psychological health of a group of 45 men working on offshore oil
rigs. Both teams compared the two main shift schedules operated on a
two-week tour of duty. One was a simple 12-hour shift, with workers
staying on night shifts or day shifts for the full two weeks. The
other was a split rota of seven night shifts followed by seven day
shifts. This was more popular with the workers because they were
already adapted to night sleeping when they returned home. But it
proved worst for their health.
Urine tests from workers on the split shift revealed that levels of
melatonin, the sleep-regulating hormone normally secreted at night,
did not become synchronised to the new sleep times after shift
changes. As well as being more tired and less attentive on the job,
these unadapted workers showed signs of being at risk of long-term
health effects. The men had abnormally high levels of fatty acids
circulating in their blood after meals, compared with the day shift or
adapted workers. This increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes
and other metabolic disorders. "The swing shift is the killer," says
The obvious conclusion is that workers should try to avoid split
shifts and other schedule changes that put their body clocks out of
kilter, but Smith points out that the there will be exceptions. "A
one-size-fits-all approach is a mistake," he says.
The HSE plans to publicise the findings to employers, and to issue
recommendations for minimising the dangers, for example by avoiding
fatty or sugary snacks at night. But legislation forcing companies to
adopt particular shift schedules is unlikely. "It won't change
overnight," says Smith. "But it would be rather foolish not to take
this on board."
* Body rhythms set a dangerous beat
* 02 April 2005
* Sleep. who needs it?
* 06 November 2004
* Night light cancer theory gets new support
* 17 February 2003
* Josephine Arendt, University of Surrey
* Andrew Smith, Cardiff University
* Health and Safety Executive
E-mail me if you have problems getting the referenced articles.
More information about the paleopsych