Overnight Workers May Have Much Greater Health Risks


Whether on beat or a little behind, our genes express themselves at a particular rhythm, 24 hours a day. According to sleep expert at St. Mary's Hospital, Rod Rambo, even sleep is meant to be in sync.

"We are genetically built to sleep at night and stay awake during the day."

It's part of our body's circadian rhythm, the internal clock that regulates the body's daily cycle and allows it to heal itself. EEG electrodes such as these monitor your brain waves to determine if you're getting quality sleep. With this technology, sleep experts have discovered a common disruption in circadian rhythms amongst overnight workers.

"In a circadian rhythm, you have different sleep stages from wakefulness to deep sleep. Your deep sleep is actually where your body is getting the healing mechanism to restore it's energy. And people who are actually disrupted in that slow-wave pattern don't get that healing benefit."

Deep sleep is the final stage..stage 4. During the day.. you may be able to sleep into stage 3, but there are many distractions.

"You have the sunlight piercing through your eyes, and you've got just normal activity throughout the day.. that your brain is hearing even though you're trying to sleep and it's actually waking you up."

A continued lack of reaching stage 4 sleep can increase your chances of a heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer.

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