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Research shows that even younger workers on night shift have to pee more — worsening the quality of their life.

Being a morning person, night shift has never been my cup of tea — be it working in the television medium or the print medium of news. While I used to complain that not only my mind but my body is also going totally out of order during these ridiculous shifts, my seniors and colleagues used to say that I was just being fussy.

However, research has now established that I was right all along. Besides the sleep, working night shifts is likely to decrease the quality of life by affecting the bladder, the researchers have warned.

According to the study presented at the European Association of Urology Congress in Barcelona, night shift workers reported a significantly higher rate of overactive bladder as compared with day shift workers.

Cosimo De Nunzio of Sant´Andrea Hospital, Rome, who was a part of the research team, says, “We know that long-term night work is stressful, and is associated with increased levels of health problems. This work shows that constant night workers may have a higher urinary frequency as well as a decline in their own quality of life.”

The researchers surveyed 68 men and 68 women between March and October 2018. The volunteers were workers in the Italian National Health System — with 66 of the volunteers working night shifts and 11 hours per night shift on an average. The team found that those who worked night shifts reported an average total score of 31 on the Overactive Bladder Questionnaire — as opposed to a score of 19 for those working day shifts.

The author went on to add, “One of the most concerning things about this work is everyone in our sample was under 50. We normally expect bladder problems with older people, but here we have younger people expressing a deteriorating quality of life.”

While the quality of sleep if definitely affected — bringing a host of mental health issues with it, medical science has established the physiological hazards of working night shifts, in the past as well.

In 2014, scientists at the Surrey Sleep Research Centre (SSRC) in the UK discovered that working nights affects us at the molecular level. Those who volunteered for the research were asked to change their sleep-wake pattern to that of a night shift worker. Blood tests of the volunteers revealed that around six per cent of our genes is timed to be more or less active at specific times. Once participants shifted to night work, this genetic precision was reduced to one per cent.

A study published by the American Association for Cancer Research in January, which examined more than 60 pieces of research, concluded that for every five years of night shift work, the risk of developing breast cancer among women increases by around 3.3 per cent. “Long-term night shift work is associated with metabolic problems, heart disease, ulcers, gastrointestinal problems and obesity,” says the National Sleep Foundation.

While professions like journalism, healthcare sector, security staff, police force, firefighters, aviation sector, BPO and others require the workers to become night owls, it is very well the time for the employers to consider having a skeletal shift to minimize the health concerns of the employees, besides maintaining a balanced schedule and roster so that the night shift workers are able to cope with the changes their bodies and minds go through.