If you have ever spent a night turning around your bed maybe post break-up or because you are worried about that promotion you are up for, you already know what it feels like the next day. If you are lucky, you spend the morning tired and cranky. The more unfortunate ones go the whole day like that.
But there are more long-term effects of sleep deprivation that are quite debilitating. It drains your mental abilities and puts you at a real physical health risk. Poor sleep has been linked to among other things, weight gain and weaker immune systems.
Your body obviously needs sleep the same way it needs food and water to function. While sleeping, the body is able to heal itself and restore the normal chemical levels. The brain allows new connections to be made and assists in retaining memories. When you go without enough sleep, your body systems and brain will not function as they should; this can lower your quality of life considerably.
Signs of sleep deprivation could be such as yawning, irritability, excessive sleepiness, and daytime fatigue.
But there is another issue, rather than binge-watching the whole night that could put your health at risk – working night shifts.
When working regular night shifts, the chances that your body will repair damaged DNA are hampered according to UAE researchers.
Findings show the possibility of night shifts suppressing production the melatonin, the sleep hormone. The night shift worker produces less levels of the chemical 8-OG-dG, which is a byproduct of DNA tissue repair. The chemical is usually found in urine. The research found that the night shift worker had less of this in his urine than his counterpart working in daytime. Of course, if there is no repair then cells contain higher levels of damaged DNA which then indicates a lower ability to repair further damage.
The idea behind this difference according to researchers is the suppression of the production of melatonin when subjects slept during the day relative to sleeping at night.
Parveen Bhatti, a researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Washington said that less melatonin was produced in night shift workers which was evidenced by the low amounts of 8-OH-dG.
He explained that this reflects a reduced ability to repair oxidative DNA as a result. This research was however not conclusive but Bhatti stated that if the effects are confirmed then medical practitioners should be able to consider melatonin supplements as an intervention in order to reduce the chances of carcinogenic DNA damage.
The study was published in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine journal online. The team was able to measure the chemical 8-OH-dG in 50 urine samples from night shift and day workers which drove them to the suggestions made in the research. The urine samples revealed that melatonin levels were way lower in people who worked the night shift that when the same people worked during the day.
However, it is a huge possibility that working night shift could affect the health of the workers direly.