Current research taking place at Charles Sturt University indicates a higher chance of disease prevalence amongst shift workers.
Research from PHD student Blake Collins, who is currently completing his first of three studies, shows that there is a higher chance of cardiovascular disease, low grade systemic inflammation and metabolic syndrome.
He said there are two potentially underappreciated influences on our health – circadian rhythm, described as an internal body clock, and sleep architecture.
“Both exert a regulatory influence over key physical functions,” he said.
“As such, working at abnormal, biological rest times and changes to sleep architecture including reduced sleep time are associated with poor health outcomes including increased incidence of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
“However the exact mechanism responsible for this link are in need of further investigation, so we have proposed a serious of studies to investigate the potential cause and to develop feasible intervention strategies to improve sleep and general health.”
In the more most recent Australia Bureau of Statistics figures, in 2009, on shift workers, 1.4 million people usually worked shift work, making up 16 per cent of employees.
Working with his supervisor, Mr Collins was researching sleep when he thought of the idea to invest the effect of shift work has on sleep.
Certain criteria in the research project, titled Health implications of circadian desynchronisation and altered sleep architecture, that will be included in the study are as follows:
- Males aged between 25 and 50
- Currently employed in rotation-style shift work or non-shift alternatives
- Never been diagnosed with a sleeping disorder, no known immune or inflammatory conditions
- Achieve a minimum of 5.5 hours of sleep most nights
- Not currently meeting Australia guidelines of exercise
- Free from any condition which may be exacerbated by exercise.
Mr Collins said testing is scheduled to start in September and run through to December of this year.
Participants will be required to wear sleep watches for 14 days and attend two labratory sessions – a familiarisation session, to fill in background information, and complete a cycle test.
The second testing session will involve extensive health assessment including testing glucose metabolism, inflammatory and cardiovascular health tests.
All participants for the research will receive an overview of their individual measures and an assessment of sleep health.