Working Odd Hours Leads to Cognitive Decline Over Time
Many jobs come with odd hours that can ultimately start to affect your health. From the early morning hours seen by flight attendants or a bartender's late night, this shift work can actually lead to a decline in different areas of your well-being. A new study suggests that working shifts over a 10-year period can actually lead to a decline in cognitive abilities.
A study published in the British Medicine Journal involving more than 3,200 participants found that those who spend a large amount of their lives on shift duty experience a noticeable decline in cognitive abilities. To come to their findings, French researchers assessed both employed and retired shift workers for a 10-year period. They administered memory and speed tests three separate times. The first measurement took place in 1996 when the participants were aged 32, 42, 52 or 62. They second test was administered in 2001 and the last in 2006.
The cognitive loss was more prevalent in those who didn't work any 9-to-5 jobs in the 10-year period. According to researchers, the cognitive decline was "equivalent to 6.5 years of age-related decline."
Scientists say more research is needed to understand why the cognitive decline occurs, but they think it may have to do with the disruption of circadian rhythms or a general lack of sunlight.
"The current study lacked statistical power to satisfactorily assess the possible mediating role of the metabolic syndrome in the observed effects on performance," the study reads. "It has also been suggested that shift workers may be more prone to vitamin D deficiency because of their reduced exposure to daylight, and vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to impaired cognitive functioning."
It may be possible to regain the lost cognitive abilities. However, it could take at least five years of working a regular schedule to do so.