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Daytime Meals Help Regulate Blood Sugar Levels in Shift Workers

Sarah Shoen

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Sarah Shoen, News Writer

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Shift workers can help regulate their own blood sugar levels by eating during the daytime instead of at night, according to a new study.

Researchers saw an increase in glucose intolerance, or higher-than-normal blood sugar levels, when adjusting participants meal times to match those whose work schedules fall outside of 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Daytime meals, however, prevented this from happening and helped participants regain a natural glucose rhythm.

The two-week study simulated the life of a shift worker by controlling participants’ sleep. Among the 19 participants, who were all in their mid-to-late 20s, this simulated night work increased the average glucose profile by 6.4%.

By the end of the study, participants were 12 hours out of sync from their original circadian rhythm, while also eating meals at nighttime.

“Permanent or rotating night shifts are unlikely to result in adequate circadian adjustment in most individuals,” researchers said.

These findings offer a behavioral approach to preventing glucose intolerance in shift workers.

Additional studies have also shown that shift workers are at an increased risk for other factors. One study showed this population has an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, which affects blood pressure.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, an estimated one in five shift workers has suffered from shift work disorder, which results in the person losing one to four hours of sleep each night.

Aligning meal times to the natural body clock may be a step toward preventing atypical blood sugar levels in shift workers, researchers say.

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Sarah Shoen

News Writer

Sarah has covered news topics for digital and print publications. She has a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Nevada.

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