Is night-shift work associate with sleep quality and metabolic syndrome?

Shift work, particularly night-shift work has been in existence since the Roman times. In the current times, working shift has become a norm, due to the needs of the society and also the expansion of the manufacturing industries. It is essential for manufacturing industries to operate 24-hour to optimise productivity and business competitiveness.

Working shift has been found to be associated with a variety of adverse health effects, which includes cardiovascular diseases and metabolic syndrome. Many studies from the West have shown that night-shift work is associated with metabolic syndrome (MetS). However, in Asia, there are only a few studies from Japan and Taiwan, that have examined the relationship between shift-work and metabolic syndrome.

Sleep disruption is also another major problem faced by night-shift workers. Some studies have shown that sleep quality was associated with diabetes mellitus, obesity, hypertension, and metabolic syndrome. However, it remains unclear as to whether sleep quality explains the association between night-shift work and metabolic syndrome.
In a recent article published in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Dr Lim Yin Cheng, a Doctor of Public Health candidate from the University of Malaya, together with co-authors Prof Victor Hoe and Assoc Prof Nirmala Bhoo-Pathy from the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University Malaya, and Dr Azlan Darus from the Social Security Organization (SOCSO), Ministry of Human Resources Malaysia, explored the association between night-shift work and metabolic syndrome, and assess whether sleep quality is a mediating factor.

The cross-sectional study was conducted among participants of the SOCSO’s Health Screening Programme, coming from 11 manufacturing factories in Klang Valley, Malaysia. The study found that the prevalence of metabolic syndrome was 37%, and night-shift workers were found to have a twofold increase in the risk of metabolic syndrome. Night-shift workers also reported significantly poorer sleep quality, longer sleep latency, shorter sleep duration, sleep disturbances and daytime dysfunction. However, sleep quality was found not be a mediator for the association between night-shift work and metabolic syndrome.

The authors recommend early screening and management of metabolic syndrome and the development of programmes to improve sleep quality among night-shift workers.

Lim YC, Hoe VCW, Darus A, Bhoo-Pathy N. Association between night-shift work, sleep quality and metabolic syndrome. Occup Environ Med 2018. doi:10.1136/oemed-2018-105104

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