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Seven frightening facts about working nights...

Bloodshot eyes and mismatched socks may be visible signs of overnight working, but Radio 4’s The Night Shift uncovers how shift work also takes its toll beneath the surface. Here are seven facts about the harm that working nights can do to you.

1. Against the clock

Alarm clocks may be set at 3am, but body clocks never get used to the night shift (regardless of how much sleep an individual gets). This can disrupt the rhythm of vital gene activity.

2. Losing sleep

Night workers are likely to sleep less and less well than those keeping daytime hours, as they try to get their shut-eye while the rest of the street cuts its grass and revs its engines in the full glare of daylight.

3. Almost drunk

Those starting work at 4am are thought to have the mental prowess of those who’ve downed a few whiskies, which may explain a higher rate of work injuries at night than in the day.

4. Cause of cancer

Studies have shown that night shifts are linked to higher rates of cancer, with women who work night shifts for 30 years or more found to be twice as likely to develop breast cancer.

5. Staying sweet

Cakes and chocolate may offer a short-term boost, but sugar and fat stay in the bloodstream for longer at night than during the day, increasing the chances of nocturnal workers suffering from type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

6. Brain drain

The brains of workers who’ve notched up ten years of night shifts age by an extra six and a half years, so the equivalent of aging 16 and a half years every decade.

7. Feeling down

Shift work can lead to irritability, mood swings and higher rates of depression, according to some studies.

Listen to The Night Shift to find out more about the impact of working nights.