Shift work may slow down brain function, lead to poor working memory: Study
- Shift work can be linked to poorer working memory, according to a recent study
- The study was published in the journal of 'Occupational & Environmental Medicine'
- Shift work can lead to sleep and mood disorders
Shift work can also pose several health threats including sleep disorders, mood disorders, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and substance abuse. Furthermore, it can also lead to lower levels of alertness and focus, increasing the risk of workplace errors and injuries.
The study was conducted by examining 18 related studies published between 2005 and 2020 with a total of 18,802 participants.
Factors of the study included working memory, processing speed, alertness and vigilance, visual attention, task switching, and cognitive control.
By combining all studies, the researchers of the study found out that working adults who work in a fixed or rotational shift display significantly worse performance than other types of workers.
While the pooled data analysis strengthened the veracity of the study, researchers admitted certain limitations in the study.
Because of the difference in the nature of the jobs, the results of the study might inaccurately represent the impact of shift work in various professions.
"Reduced neurobehavioural performance in shift workers might play an important role regarding work-related injuries and errors," with implications for workplace health and safety, wrote the researchers.
"Protective countermeasures (eg: naps, recovery plans, regular monitoring) for reduction in neurobehavioural performance of shift workers should be promoted to minimise the risk of adverse health and work-related outcomes. When a more consistent body of high-quality literature is available, we highly recommend replication of analysis to develop practical interventions to overcome neurobehavioural impairment,” they concluded.