New research suggests that its not just food options and lifestyle choices that put night workers at higher risk for obesity and other health problems—it's that human bodies can't really adapt to a late-night rhythm. Researchers have long been concerned about the higher risks of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other ailments for people who work on night shifts. The short version of the findings from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is that when everyone is put on the same health and lifestyle axis, those who slip outside the normal human routine of waking at morning and sleeping at night—also known as tweaking their circadian rhythm—run up against their body's resistance, as noted by Wired:
The (night-shifted) subjects' bodies soon produced less leptin, a hormone secreted from fatty tissue that signals a body to stop eating by triggering feelings of satiety. They experienced increases in blood glucose and insulin, which are linked to diabetes. Levels of cortisol, a hormone released during periods of stress and linked to nearly every disorder in which night work has been implicated, shot up. Test subjects' blood pressure also rose.
Those findings came from test subjects who were waking up four hours later each day, though, not someone working permanently on a night schedule. So if you're working on a rotating day/night schedule, whether planned or as a result of excess overtime, it's not just your free time begging you to come back to stability—your body wouldn't mind a regular schedule either. em>Photo by cell105.