How Night Shift Jobs Are Ruining Your Health

  • A man crossing a street in Nairobi at Night.
    A man crossing a street in Nairobi at Night.
  • Working the night shift has become an ineluctable condition in the Kenyan economy that is strained by the current global crisis. 

    Gone are the days when most, if not all individuals would work a regular 9 to 5 job to sustain their livelihoods but now everybody is going above and beyond to put food on their table including working multiple shifts.

    Desperate but necessary measures to support one's upkeep might be causing harm in the long run. 

     A motorist driving at night
    A motorist driving on a highway in Kenya.

    Night shifts jobs are popular in the fields of security as security guards and police officers transport as long-distance drivers and airline crew, journalism as late-night presenters, editors and content writers, 24-hour customer service representatives and in the medical field as doctors and nurses just to mention a few.

    Working overnight and not getting enough hours of sleep could cause numerous health-related problems that could reduce one's life expectancy rate.

    Heart diseases are an example of such. When one works for long hours and derives themselves from sleep, they inadvertently disrupt their sleep pattern that could inhibit normal heart rhythm and cause a ripple effect of heart problems including but not limited to Ischemic heart disease, coronary heart disease and Atrial Fibrillation - commonly known as Afib.

    People who work night shifts should naturally be asleep during the day but most choose to partake in other activities such as studies or spending time with family and end up only catching few hours of sleep.
    This is linked to increased levels of C-reactive protein which increases inflammation in the body and this inflammation could consequently cause Coronary heart disease and diabetes as well.

    "If you sleep less than six hours per night and have disturbed sleep you stand a 48 per cent greater chance of developing or dying from heart disease and a 15% greater chance of developing or dying from a stroke," Professor Fransesco Cappuccio of Warwick Medical School warns. 

    These statistics were derived from a study he carried out titled, sleep duration predicts cardiovascular outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies.

     In addition to that, men and women who do not get sufficient sleep suffer from low libido that may cause problems with lubrication in women and lead to pain.

    Type 2 diabetes comes about when the body's natural way of processing glucose is altered. As stated by Sleep Foundation,  lack of enough sleep is linked to an increase in cortisol which increases blood sugar levels in the body and as a result causes blood sugar disorder otherwise known as diabetes.

    Infertility in men and women has been associated with disruptions in one's sleep pattern according to the National Health Service, UK. This disruption reduces the secretion of reproductive hormones making it difficult to conceive.

    If you're trying to lose weight or maintain your current weight then it's a good idea to get adequate hours of sleep. According to a 2004 study, getting less than six hours of sleep a day would put you in the 30% bracket of those most likely to become obese compared to the people who got seven to nine hours.

    Looking deeper into it, research has shown the relation between sleep and appetite. The hormone Ghrelin stimulates hunger. Minimal hours of sleep has been shown to elevate the levels of Ghrelin in the body which increases your appetite. Not only does it increase your appetite but it stimulates cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods.

    Dr. Edith Kwobah who is a psychiatrist at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital advises adults to get seven to eight hours of sleep and children ten. 

    "When God created humans, He knew vital organs cannot run forever. Sleep makes organs rejuvenate, is important for emotional and mental health. If humans are awake for about two weeks, they can die."

    So remember to get enough hours of sleep regardless of your work shift, it may just save your life.

    File image of a man sleeping in an office
    File image of a man sleeping in an office