Shift work can dull your brain research findsCurrent affairsScience & Technology
A recent study has illuminated the effects of shift work on the brain; shift work is defined as an employment practice that requires employees to work around the clock.
Shift workers will have their work patterns divided amongst work colleagues to meet the needs of the business but will still involve long term night shifts.
British researchers from the University of Swansea have found that shift work impairs the brains capacity to think, remember and ensues a significant aging effect. Ten years of shift work bears a decline in brain function equal to 6.5 years of ageing.
Dr Philip Tucker, part of the research team in Swansea, told the BBC: “It was quite a substantial decline in brain function, it is likely that when people trying to undertake complex cognitive tasks then they might make more mistakes and slip-ups, maybe one in 100 makes a mistake with a very large consequence, but it’s hard to say how big a difference it would make in day-to-day life.”
Another study of the same nature, featured in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, was led by Dr Jean-Claude Marquie from the University of Toulouse, France.
Dr Marquie and his team of scientists assessed more than 3,000 workers, on three occasions, over a ten-year period. All participants worked variable shift patterns. Results showed that shift workers scored low on memory tests, processing speed and overall brain function in comparison to people who had never worked shift patterns.
Following these results Dr Marquie concluded: “Shift work chronically impairs cognition, with potentially important safety consequences not only for the individuals concerned, but also for society.”
Shift work has also been said to be linked to other mental illnesses such as dementia as well being a key disruptor to the human body clock.
Research shows a gradual recovery from the effects of shift work were noticeable after five years of being exposures to a normal working day.