Recent research has found that chronic shift workers–especially, those who have done shift work for at least 10 years–may suffer from a premature aging of the brain equivalent to 6.5 years. The problem occurs because of a disruption in the circadian rhythms of the brain. The researchers believe that disrupting the body’s internal clock can lead to physiological issues which in turn negatively affect the brain.
If you are a shift worker, what can you do to combat these effects?
- Limit consecutive night shifts: If you can, try limiting night shifts to no more than 3 in a row. Some research suggests it can cut down on the negative effects.
- Take exercise breaks: The study found there may be potential cognitive benefits to taking breaks during shift work, if you use the breaks to do aerobic exercise.
- Cease shift work and get a day job: The study found that when shift work stopped, people returned to normal–but not immediately. In fact, the researchers found that it took at least 5 years to get over the negative effects of chronic shift work.
- Increase vitamin D: A previous study found that people who work night shifts may have a vitamin D deficiency from lack of sunlight, which can worsen cognitive decline.
- Train your brain with BrainHQ: BrainHQ has been clinically proven in multiple large-scale independent studies to improve memory, brain speed, and quality of life in aging.
For more information, you can read the study abstract, which was published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.