Night shift work lowers the mind

Night shift work lowers the mind

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Less memory due to night shift work

Constant shift work can have a negative impact on the body. Some research indicates sustainable damage such as diabetes and stress. Memory performance also obviously suffers, as a recent research by the CNRS research institute in Toulouse, France showed. According to the findings, employees who “work shifts for years or work at night should continuously lose their brain power in contrast to normal employees with regular working hours”.

When others sleep, a lot of people work. "It can't be healthy," many people instinctively say. Indeed, working in shifts and especially at night produces stress, cancer, sleep problems, obesity, diabetes and memory problems. The list of possible consequences of living against the so-called “internal clock” is long and women in particular often suffer greatly from the irregularity. However, according to a recent study by the CNRS research institute in Toulouse, this not only affects physical health, but apparently also memory and thinking skills.

CNRS research institute examines 3232 people in long-term study
As the study leader Jean-Claude Marquié reports in the US magazine "Occupational and Environmental Medicine", a total of 3232 working and retired people from various industries who were between 32 and 62 years old at the beginning of the project had participated in the study. About half of the subjects worked shift work. In order to investigate the effects of this working time model, the participants were subjected to various tests at three points in time (1996, 2001 and 2006), in which the general cognitive abilities as well as the responsiveness and the long and short-term memory were tested.

The brain only recovers after five years at the earliest
The result: The people who had worked in shifts or at night for several years showed a significantly faster decrease in cognitive abilities than those with regular work cycles, said Jean-Claude Marquié. This would particularly affect the employees who had worked longer than ten years in shift work, because "this corresponds to an additional age-related loss of cognitive abilities of 6.5 years in the respective cohort" Not simply reversing work, explains Marquié. Instead, it would take at least five years for the brain to recover from the extra strain.

The health of shift workers should be given greater focus
According to the researchers, however, the results now have to be verified by further investigations, the scientists write. Nevertheless, according to Marquié, the health of shift workers should generally be of particular importance, for example by making medical care and working time regulations more employee-friendly. "Shift work chronically affects cognition, which has potentially important consequences for safety - not just for the individual, but also for society," says the researchers in "Occupational and Environmental Medicine". (No)

Image: Charlotte Spiess /

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