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Your Night Job Could Increase Your Risk of Diabetes and Your Weight

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your weight and your diabetes risk may increase with night jobs iStockphoto/Thinkstock

If you are holding a middle management, marketing, or sales job and you are travelling late evenings frequently to your client destinations, you could be putting yourself at risk of developing diabetes and obesity.

A study conducted at Brigham and Women's Hospital corroborates the earlier findings that both disrupting your sleep pattern as well as getting fewer hours of sleep than optimal puts you at a risk for diabetes and obesity.

So if you are flying the nights after finishing with the day’s work at office, finding yourself at sleep habitats which are not your usual, disrupting your quality of sleep, you should be careful about what you eat or how much you work out.

A similar danger is faced by shift workers where the person’s sleep patterns become inconsistent with their internal biological clock.

The study was conducted in lab settings where 21 healthy participants were observed for a period of six weeks. The researchers controlled the following variables in the experiment: (1)

• Hours of sleep a participant got
• When the participants slept
• Diet of the participant
• Activities of the participant

The participants started out being allowed an optimal 10-hour sleep at night, which was then varied to 5-6 hours of sleep per day. This sleep could occur any point of time in the 24-hour cycle -- day or night.

This was done to mimic the effect of working a rotating shift in the participants with the object of achieving a disrupted internal circadian rhythm.

The study closed with the participants having nine nights of recovery sleep at the usual time.

Circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in a plant or animal’s environment. (2)

Among other things, the internal circadian rhythm regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle, as well as appetite, etc.

The following observations were made during the study:

1. Disrupting the circadian rhythm simultaneously with prolonged sleep deprivation reduced a person’s resting metabolic rate.

2. Disrupting the circadian rhythm simultaneously with prolonged sleep deprivation increased the blood glucose levels post meals due to poor insulin secretion by the pancreas.

The observations had serious implications.

A reduced resting metabolic rate could translate to a weight gain of possibly 10 pounds in a year if activity levels and diet remained unchanged. Further, an increase in the glucose concentration on blood after meals could increase the person’s risk of diabetes.

According to Orfeu M. Buxton, PhD, BWH neuroscientist and lead study author, “We think these results support the findings from studies showing that, in people with a pre-diabetic condition, shift workers who stay awake at night are much more likely to progress to full-on diabetes than day workers. Since night workers often have a hard time sleeping during the day, they can face both circadian disruptions working at night and insufficient sleep during the day. The evidence is clear that getting enough sleep is important for health, and that sleep should be at night for best effect.”(3)


1. Less Sleep, Disrupted Internal 24-Hour Clock Means Higher Risk of Diabetes and Obesity; Science Daily News; Web May 2012;

2. Circadian Rhythms Fact Sheet; National Institute of General Medical Sciences; Web May 2012;

3. Less Sleep, Disrupted Internal 24-hour Clock Means Higher Risk of Diabetes and Obesity; News - Brigham's And Women's Hospital; Web May 2012;

Abstract of the technical report may be accessed at:

1. Adverse Metabolic Consequences in Humans of Prolonged Sleep Restriction Combined with Circadian Disruption; Science - American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); Web May 2012;


Mamta Singh is a published author of the books Migraines for the Informed Woman – Tips From A Sufferer: ISBN: 978-81-291-1517-1 (Publisher: Rupa & Co. URL: http://www.amazon.com/Migraines-Informed-Woman-Tips-Sufferer/dp/8129115174/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1298990756&sr=1-2), Mentor Your Mind – Tested Mantras For The Busy Woman: ISBN: 978-81-207-5973-2 (Publisher: Sterling Publishers; URL: http://www.amazon.com/Mentor-Your-Mind-Tested-Mantras/dp/8120759737/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1316063179&sr=8-1) and the upcoming Women’s Complete Fitness Guide (Publisher: Hay House India).

She is also a seasoned business, creative and academic writer. She is a certified fitness instructor, personal trainer & sports nutritionist through IFA, Florida USA. Mamta is an NCFE-certified Holistic Health Therapist SAC Dip U.K. She is the lead writer and holds Expert Author status in many well-received health, fitness and nutrition sites.

She runs her own popular blogs on migraines in women and holistic health. Mamta holds a double Master's Degree in Commerce and Business. She is a registered practitioner with the UN recognised Art of Living Foundation.

Please visit www.mamtasingh.com/

Reviewed June 20, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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