Irregular hours really are bad for your health

People
working long and irregular hours due to the pressures of a 24-hour society are
open to increased health risks, according to scientists.

One
in five workers in urban societies is working outside normal office hours
because of the consumer-demand for round-the-clock access to shops, banks and
other services.

These
workers are at risk of increased sleep disruption, gastrointestinal disorders
and heart disease, according to Dr Shantha Rajaratnam and Prof Josephine Arendt
of the Centre of Chronobiology at the University of Surrey.

Writing
in medical journal The Lancet, they warn that the increased health risks will
lead to more litigation against employers.

Measures
to counter the effects of shift work could include the use of dark goggles for
night workers during the day and the use of melatonin that can help synchronise
the body clock.

They
write, "Employers and individuals need to be aware of the major
performance and alertness decrements associated with night activity and how to
best manage and counteract them.

"In
view of the increased risk of accidents during the early hours of the morning,
greater regulation of work practices during the times is warranted."

By
Lisa Bratby

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