Years of working in shifts, and changing of shifts in due course does damage to the brain, draining its power, suggests study. The research suggests that working in shifts for more than 10 years, can cause a 6.5 years age decline in brain powers- memory, thinking and imagination.
“Our work suggests that shift work is associated with impaired cognition, that the association is stronger and especially significant for exposure durations exceeding 10 years, and finally, and maybe most importantly, that the effect persists after having ceased any form of shift-work schedule,” said Jean-Claude Marquie, research director at the National Center for Scientific Research, at the University of Toulouse, France.
The researchers included 3000 people from France in their study, of different age groups, who worked in shifts in different sectors of the economy. More than 1000 of these people included for study worked in rotating shifts- mornings, afternoons and nights. “It might be tied to the stress generated by disruption of the body’s internal clock (circadian rhythms). Changes in the circadian rhythm can increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol”, Marquie said. This can have an adverse effect on the brain, especially areas of the brain important for memory.
They compared their brain power with people not working in shifts, and noticed some highly dramatic differences. They had much lower memory than those who have been working for the same duration of years, but in standard and non-fluctuating hours.