A new study says people who work shifts for 10 years or more may eventually suffer from memory loss and brain power decline.
In a research published in the journal “Occupational and Environmental Medicine,” last November 3, results show that people who work shifts for 10 years or more may experience impaired brain power which could involve cognitive skills like thinking, reasoning and memory.
Previous studies have linked shift work to other health problems like cardiovascular disease and some cancers; possibly due to the disruption of the body’s internal clock.
The results also show that the effect was greater for those who have worked abnormal hours for 10 years or more. Researchers also say that people may recover from the long term effects, but for a period of 5 years or more.
The study was conducted to more than 3,000 people who were either working in a wide range job or who had retired in years 1996, 2001 and 2006. Almost half of the participants had worked shifts for at least 50 days during the year.
The researchers evaluated the participants’ short and long term memory, their processing speed, and their overall cognitive function, at ages 32, 42, 52 and 62.
The evaluation showed that those who are currently working or who had previously worked abnormal hours scored lower on memory, processing speed, and overall brain function, compared to those who work within normal office hours.
Those who have worked rotating shifts for 10 or more years had lower cognitive and memory scores. The study also showed that for recovery to be possible, it must take at least 5 years of cessation in terms of working in shifts.
According to the authors of the study, “The cognitive impairment observed in the present study may have important safety consequences not only for the individuals concerned, but also for society as a whole, given the increasing number of jobs in high hazard situations that are performed at night.”
The study concludes the importance of monitoring the health of the people who work with rotating shifting schedules, especially those who work at night, in order to evaluate any effect in their brain function in the future.