If you’ve ever, or currently do work 3rd shift, you know how life-altering it can be. Trying to sleep while the rest of the world moves around outside your bedroom window, however, is the least of your problems. And now a new study shows one more way that shift is killing you!
Scientists writing in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine say working nights prevents our bodies from healing damaged DNA. They measured workers’ levels of 8-OH-dG, which is a chemical byproduct of the DNA repair process. (All day long, we bruise and ding our DNA. At night, it should fix itself.) They found that people who slept at night had higher levels of 8-OH-dG in their urine than day sleepers, which suggests that their bodies were healing more damage.
Previous studies have linked night work and rotating shifts to increased risks for heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, and car accidents. In 2007, the World Health Organization declared night work “probably or possibly carcinogenic.”