Night work puts our heart under pressure

cp-travail-nuitWhile the proposed liberalization of Sunday opening hours has created a media storm, healthcare professionals are more interested in the possible long-terms effects these measures could have on our health. If we are to believe the specialists, having to work on a Sunday would have no negative repercussions at a physiological level, but this would not be the case at a psychological level, because Sunday is traditionally seen as being a day of rest.

However, although having to work on a Sunday may not necessarily be damaging to one’s health, having a working timetable that is ‘out of sync’ with most people or having to work night shifts can indeed cause significant cardiovascular problems. Regardless of age, gender and classic risk factors people who work during the night are 23% more likely to have a heart attack, 24% more likely to experience acute coronary events and 5% more likely to suffer from a stroke. In addition to the increased incidence of cardiovascular illnesses, these unusual working patterns can lead to high blood pressure, a more sedentary lifestyle, an increase in smoking and poor eating habits, causing obesity.

An adult needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night in order to avoid damaging their cardiovascular health. Working by night disturbs our biological clock. Employers must draw their staff’s attention to this and help counter any negative impact by recommending staff members on night shifts take regular breaks and monitor their blood pressure and weight on a regular basis.