The Impact of Shift Work on Health

This summer, Singapore Ministry of Manpower updated the Employment Act, which regulates everything related to the working hours in this country. Apart from the rules about the hours of work, the act also covers the rest days, as well as the overtime work.

Shift workWhen it comes to the shift work, Singapore allows shifts of up to 12 hours per one day. This arrangement inspired us to look more into the topic and see what the downsides of shift work are, in relation to your health. Here are 5 most-common health issues caused by shift work.

Sleep Disorder

The most common issue that shift workers face is the sleep disorder. Working in shifts takes toll on the sleeping patterns of workers, which can cause serious problems. Sleeping is generally reserved for nighttime. Most people are used to sleeping at night, but if their job doesn’t allow it, their bodies will have to adjust. This means that the sleep patterns of shift workers can change. If that happens, it can lead to insomnia in the future.

Increased Risk of Diabetes

One of the biggest problems with the irregular sleep is that it affects the secretion of insulin. This hormone is the key when it comes to regulation of the blood sugar levels. Unbalanced insulin levels mean that diabetes is likely to develop. In fact, medical researches done in the United States have found proof that diabetes type 2 is much more likely to happen with workers who do night shifts.


Another study has shown that the workers who work in shifts are likely to have problems with excessive fat. Again, it’s all caused by irregular sleep. The human body needs to get enough rest in order to function properly. If not, the metabolism will slow down and the hormone levels will become misbalanced. All of these issues are known as causes of obesity.


Shift work has been proven to be one of the major causes of depression. As already discussed, it messes up a person sleep pattern. Irregular sleep lowers the production of serotonin, the hormone of happiness. Still, that’s not all the shift work does in order to make you feel miserable.

Depression is often caused by social factors. Working in shifts takes toll on person’s social life. When working at night, shift workers will have to use day time to get a rest. Instead of spending a quality time with their family and friends, these workers will be asleep.

Increased Risk of Workplace Injuries

The University of British Columbia conducted a thorough research in order to find out whether shift work has an impact on the amount of workplace injuries. They came up with a breathtaking discovery that this kind of work arrangement increases that risk by double!

The lack of focus is the number one cause of injuries at work. Once again, the problem is caused by irregular sleep. Lack of quality night sleep causes drowsiness. Shift workers are likely to have lower concentration than those who work 9 to 5.

Obviously, shift work is not good for the health of the workers. However, some people simply have no other choice. That is why certain countries have passed the laws that protect the workers from too much shift work. The laws also ensure that the workers get enough rest. On top of that, the pay is also regulated and is usually bigger than when it comes to regular working hours.

The people working in shifts are advised to try and reduce the negative impact it has on their bodies. They need to find a solution for getting enough sleep. One of the tips for that is to pay attention to sleep cycles. On average, a single sleep cycle lasts about an hour and a half. That means that in order to wake up rested, a person should sleep for at least 4 cycles during night. In order not to disturb the pattern when doing the night shift, people should limit daytime sleep to no more than 3 sleeping cycles.


If you have any questions, please ask below!