Study shows how working night shifts can raise risk of disease

A new study shows evidence of how fast the graveyard shift works can impact your body and health. 

"The brain doesn't really adapt to that kind of schedule very much," said Professor Hans Van Dongen of Washington State University.

In fact, experts say the brain battles the body's metabolic system when you are working overnight because you are not supposed to be awake during those hours.

A new study out of Washington State University’s Sleep and Performance Research Center found that after working just three days of overnight shifts, the proteins that regulate blood glucose are disrupted.

"That tug of war actually has consequences for the way we metabolize our food, for the way we process our glucose and respond to glucose with insulin and we believe that has long-term consequences for our health," said Professor Van Dongen, who led the study. 

According to Van Dongen, when internal rhythms are thrown off it puts stress on the body and wear and tear on our organs.

"There's an increased risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease," said Dr. Randy DiLorenzo, Medical Director with Northwell at Syosset Hospital on Long Island.

Doctor DiLorenzo says although the recent research out of Washington State University only studied 14 people, it still provides some interesting findings as to why overnight shifts can be so damaging to the body.

"I've seen a number of nurses and doctors, many of them do complain, also policemen.  They do complain.  It does take a toll on them," DiLorenzo said.