Working on a night shift may not really be a good idea regardless if you get paid more than when you work during day time. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that working on a night shift can lead to long-term damage to your body.

For the study, researchers from the Sleep Research Centre at the University of Surrey in the UK, shifted the sleeping patterns of 22 healthy, young volunteers from normal to that of a night-shift worker and then collected their blood samples.

The researchers found that altering the body's natural sleeping pattern has a profound effect on the rhythm of the genes. "Over 97% of rhythmic genes become out of sync with mistimed sleep and this really explains why we feel so bad during jet lag, or if we have to work irregular shifts," said study co-author Simon Archer.

Senior author Derk-Jan Dijk explained that the tissues in the body follow a daily rhythm but this is disrupted with shifting sleep patterns. "It's chrono-chaos. It's like living in a house. There's a clock in every room in the house and in all of those rooms those clocks are now disrupted, which of course leads to chaos in the household," he said.

Previous studies show that sleeping too little at the wrong time of the day can increase a person's risks for Type 2 diabetes and obesity. Some studies also found that heart attack is common among night workers. "We know that shift work is associated with negative health consequences such as cardiovascular problems and that we don't feel well when we're jetlagged," Dijk said. "This shows how important that rhythmicity is for our body and how much of an impact it can have on us when this natural cycle is altered."

Dijk, however, acknowledged the importance of night shift work despite its risks and gave some advice. "I don't think in our society we can't do without shift work but we can start to think about how we mitigate the impact and understand how it affects our bodies," he said.

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