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Depression, Poor Health Linked to Night Shifts, Inconsistent Schedules

— May 9, 2024

Stable, daytime schedules are associated with both better sleep and better health outcomes.

On some level, working an inconsistent, unusual schedule, especially when it comes to night shifts, just feels “wrong.” Even if people can’t quite put their finger on what it is that doesn’t feel right about their working hours, it isn’t exactly a secret that odd, unpredictable schedules can be tough to maintain. Now, there is research to back up those feelings. Health problems are often associated with uneven scheduling, which should be cause for concern for anyone facing that kind of reality in their professional life.

Before getting into any specifics, it is seen from a big-picture perspective that stable employment patterns are associated with both better sleep and better health outcomes. It doesn’t necessarily matter so much what those patterns happen to be, just that they are consistent from day to day and week to week for the most part. People who are able to settle into such a routine tend to enjoy better health than those who don’t have that luxury.

The issues that tend to arise for those with inconsistent schedules can be quite serious. Some of those problems include obesity, depression, anxiety, and elevated risk of stroke. Obviously, those are both mental and physical conditions that can severely harm an individual’s life, so this is nothing to take for granted. And it seems that working these kinds of hours early in life can have a negative impact on health later in life, speaking to the fact that it is never too early to pay attention to healthy patterns and try to find employment that offers a steady schedule and reliable hours.

Depression, Poor Health Linked to Night Shifts, Inconsistent Schedules
Photo by Albie Patacsil from Pexels

As with so many other things related to health, sleep plays an important role in this conversation. A lack of sleep is often tied to a difficult or demanding work schedule, and when people don’t sleep as much as they need to, health impacts are usually soon to follow. Some of the issues that are commonly associated with a lack of sleep can include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and many more.

There is an issue of inequality that needs to be addressed within this discussion, as well. It tends to be those at the lower end of the income scale, and those from marginalized communities, who wind up being forced to work long and inconsistent hours. This can contribute to the ongoing issues of income inequality, as it’s difficult for those individuals to seek better opportunities and further education while dealing with the effects of inconsistent sleep.

With any luck, more of this type of research will encourage businesses and organizations to think twice about how they schedule their workers. It may not always be possible to produce a schedule that is even and consistent, but working toward that goal will be better for everyone involved. With so many potential health concerns linked to work scheduling, this is a matter that can’t be ignored any longer.


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Night Shifts, Hectic Work Schedules When Young Can Lead to Depression, Poor Health in Middle Age

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