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Science Says Working Those Overnight Shifts May Be Destroying Your Health

Working overnight shifts can sometimes be very tempting when extra compensation is involved.

However, is it really worth the potential destruction to your health?

If you're working odd hours and catching up on your sleep during the day, though it may seem as simple as switching your sleep cycle, in reality, you might be ruining your body's ability to repair DNA damage.

Yes. It is that serious.

Remember, your sleep goes through cycles, and melatonin relies on darkness to actually put you into an adequate, sleep-induced rest.


Sleeping during the day, when there is daylight, totally disturbs your body's regular programming.

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According to a study published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine, in research conducted on 223 night-shift workers, sleeping during the day was associated with lower levels of 8-OH-dG.

That weird sequence of letters and numbers actually represents a chemical byproduct of DNA tissue repair.

Researchers believe that this is due to suppressed production of melatonin during day sleep contrasted to night sleep.


So what does this mean exactly?

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Your DNA gets damaged all the time — it simply comes with age.

Damage in DNA is usually harmless; for instance it's usually a mutation, or a small error in the DNA code.

However, the cells in your body withhold the ability to repair the damage.

Now, when your body cannot repair said damage, your cells can be more susceptible to diseases like cancer.

According to ScienceDaily, repairing damage in DNA from anything that causes a mutation is a key process that protects your cells from becoming cancerous.

Researchers in the Occupational & Environmental Medicine study tested 8-OH-dG levels via urine samples, and found that, compared to the day-shift workers, the night-shift workers showed significantly lower levels of 8-OH-dG.

The researchers say the direct correlation between decreased 8-OH-dG levels and decreased melatonin “reflects a reduced capacity to repair oxidative DNA damage due to insufficient levels of melatonin and may result in cells harboring higher levels of DNA damage.”

So, to say the least, your body does not appreciate a f*cked up work or sleep schedule.


However, it should be noted that the findings in the study aren't conclusive, as the participants were all white males of similar ages, working in health care.

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Therefore, the findings cannot be applied generally… yet.

According to WebMd, Parveen Bhatti, a lead researcher of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, suggested that night-shift workers should really focus on living an overall healthy lifestyle.

This means incorporating balanced meals, wholesome foods, exercise, and of course, self-care, into a daily routine.

So, yeah, that extra cash in your wallet might feel good come pay day, but your body could be facing some serious consequences down the road.

Is the extra cash really worth it?

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Imani Brammer

Staff Writer

Imani Brammer is a writer, on-air talent and YouTuber, where she produces videos on how to navigate the nuances of adulthood. Subscribe to her channel at YouTube.com/ImaniBrammer and be sure to follow her on Instagram.com/ImaniBrammer
Imani Brammer is a writer, on-air talent and YouTuber, where she produces videos on how to navigate the nuances of adulthood. Subscribe to her channel at YouTube.com/ImaniBrammer and be sure to follow her on Instagram.com/ImaniBrammer

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