Researchers at the University of Alabama conducted a recent study to determine how shift work affects female nurses. The study included a group of night shift nurses and a group of nurses assigned to day shifts to see how the different work schedules affected the health and performance of the nurses.
Over the nine-day period, researchers evaluated the core body temperatures of all of the nurses, as well as their locomotor activity functioning. Additionally, melatonin and cortisol levels were measured. Cortisol is a metabolic hormone, while melatonin is the hormone used by the body to regulate wakefulness and sleepiness.
Upon evaluating the data, the research team found that the core body temperature, locomotor activity, cortisol and melatonin levels were all affected in the night shift nurses. As a whole, these findings suggested that the circadian rhythm was adversely affected when the regular nighttime sleeping patterns of the night shift nurses, which they resumed on their days off, were disrupted. Since day shift and night shift nurses followed similar lifestyle patterns on their days off, the disruption in the circadian rhythm exhibited in the night shift nurses recurred each week.
This is important because the circadian rhythm influences a number of biological functions, including hormone distribution. When the circadian rhythm is disrupted, the individual’s ability to stay awake and alert may be compromised. The opposite is also true: A disrupted circadian rhythm can cause sleep difficulties as night shift nurses try to get rest during the daylight hours.
Source & full article: https://www.chronobiology.com/confirmed-shift-work-can-be-devastating-to-nurses-health/