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Shift workers more likely to have metabolic, sleep issues: study

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Madison, WI – Shift workers may be more likely to be overweight, have sleep problems, and develop diabetes or other metabolic disorders, according to a study from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Researchers examined data collected between 2008 and 2012 from nearly 1,600 workers in the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin, as well as information about body mass index, Type 2 diabetes and sleep.

They found that nearly half of shift workers (47.9 percent) were overweight, compared to 34.7 percent of workers on a traditional schedule. Shift workers – who work outside the typical 9-to-5 shift – also were more likely to have sleep problems, including insomnia (23.6 percent versus 16.3 percent), inadequate sleep (53 percent versus 42.9 percent) and sleepiness (31.8 percent versus 24.4 percent).

Having sleep problems was connected with being overweight, obese or diabetic, and the connection appeared to be stronger in shift workers who slept fewer than seven hours – suggesting that adequate sleep can help reduce negative metabolic consequences of shift work, a press release states.

The study was published online May 18 in the journal Sleep Health.