In a worrying find for shift workers, a new study recently suggested that those who are chronically sleep-deprived by their work schedule may be at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The study, published this week in the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension, said that while insufficient sleep and circadian rhythm disturbances both have been associated with adverse cardiovascular outcomes, the cause is unclear.
“In humans, as in all mammals, almost all physiological and behavioral processes, in particular the sleep-wake cycle, follow a circadian rhythm that is regulated by an internal clock located in the brain,” Dr. Daniela Grimaldi, lead author and a research assistant professor at Northwestern University in Chicago, said in a news release. “When our sleep-wake and feeding cycles are not in tune with the rhythms dictated by our internal clock, circadian misalignment occurs.”
According to the news release, shift workers represent 15 to 30 percent of the working population in industrialized countries. For those whose jobs demand shift work, researchers suggested workers keep a healthy diet, exercise regularly and get more sleep.