Work the night shift? Follow these tips to deal with health problems

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According to a small clinical trial conducted by the National Institutes of Health, eating only during the day could prevent higher glucose levels for night workers.

The study was published in the “Science Advances Journal”. The findings, according to the study’s authors, could lead to new behavioral interventions aimed at improving the health of night workers – grocery stores, hotel workers, truck drivers, first responders and others – who they say previous studies, could be at an increased risk for diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

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The new study, which researchers say is the first to demonstrate the beneficial effect of this type of intervention on mealtime in humans was funded primarily by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute ( NHLBI), which is part of the NIH.

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“This is a rigorous and highly controlled laboratory study that demonstrates a potential intervention for the adverse metabolic effects associated with shift work, which is a known public health problem,” said Marishka Brown, PhD, director of the National NHLBI Center on Sleep Disorders Research. .

“We look forward to additional studies that confirm the results and begin to unravel the biological basis of these findings,” Brown added.

For the study, the researchers recruited 19 young, healthy participants (seven women and 12 men). Following a preconditioning routine, participants were randomly assigned to a 14-day controlled laboratory protocol involving simulated night work conditions with one of two meal schedules. One group ate during the night to mimic a typical meal schedule for night workers, and one group ate during the day.

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The researchers then evaluated the effects of these meal times on their internal circadian rhythms. It is the internal process that regulates not only the sleep-wake cycle, but also the 24-hour cycle of virtually every aspect of your bodily functions, including metabolism.

Researchers found that eating at night increased glucose levels – a risk factor for diabetes – while limiting daytime meals prevented this effect. Specifically, the average glucose levels for those who ate at night rose 6.4 percent during simulated night work, while those who ate during the day showed no significant increase.

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“This is the first human study to demonstrate the use of the meal schedule as a countermeasure against the combined negative effects of impaired glucose tolerance and disrupted alignment of circadian rhythms resulting from ‘simulated night shift,’ said study director Frank AJL Scheer, PhD, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the medical chronobiology program at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston.

The researchers said the mechanisms behind the observed effects were complex. They believed that the effects of nighttime eating on glucose levels during simulated night work were caused by circadian misalignment. This corresponded to the mismatch between the central circadian “clock” (located in the hypothalamus of the brain) and the sleep / wake, light / dark, and fast / feed behavioral cycles, which can influence peripheral “clocks” throughout the body. The present study showed that, in particular, shifting the central circadian clock with fasting / eating cycles played a key role in increasing glucose levels. The work further suggested that the beneficial effects of daytime eating on glucose levels during simulated night work might be due to better alignment between these central and peripheral “clocks”.

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“This study reinforces the idea that when you eat, it’s important to determine health outcomes such as blood sugar levels, which are relevant to night workers because they typically eat at night on their shift. work, ”said study co-lead Sarah L. Chellappa, MD, PhD, researcher in the Department of Nuclear Medicine at the University of Cologne, Germany. Chellappa previously worked with Scheer in the Brigham & Women’s Medical Chronobiology program.

To translate these findings into practical and effective mealtime interventions, the researchers said more studies were needed, including with actual shift workers in their typical work environment.

-PTC News with contributions from agencies

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