HealthDay News — Shift work may be harmful to metabolic health, according to research published in Sleep Health, the journal of the National Sleep Foundation.

Researchers examined data on 1,593 people in Wisconsin, comparing the health of shift workers with those who worked a 9-to-5 schedule. The results showed that shift workers were more likely to be overweight than people who didn’t do shift work — 48 versus 35%. Shift workers were also around 10% more likely to report sleep problems, such as insomnia, insufficient sleep, and sleepiness.

“Shift workers are more commonly men, minorities, and individuals with lower educational attainment and typically work in hospital settings, production, or shipping industries,” lead investigator Marjory Givens, PhD, an associate scientist at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, said in a journal news release. “Shift work employees are particularly vulnerable to experiencing sleep problems as their jobs require them to work night, flex, extended, or rotating shifts.”

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Shift workers may also be more likely to develop metabolic disorders such as diabetes, according to the study.

 “This study adds to a growing body of literature calling attention to the metabolic health burden commonly experienced by shift workers and suggests that obtaining sufficient sleep could lessen this burden. More research in this area could inform workplace wellness or health care provider interventions on the role of sleep in addressing shift worker health disparities,” Givens concluded.


  1. Givens ML et al. Sleep Health. 2015; doi:10.1016/j.sleh.2015.04.014.