New Study Shows Impact of Shift Work, From Poor Working Memory to Low Visual Focus – A recent study showed that shift work is linked to poorer working memory and slower mental processing speed.

It is also associated with lower levels of maturity and visual focus and the ability to control impulses and situational responses.

It has the potential to increase the risk of injury and mistakes in the workplace, report Times of India.

Not only that, shift work is also associated with serious health problems as a result of the internal clock (circadian rhythm) being out of sync with the normal light-dark cycle.

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The health problems in question are sleep disorders, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, mood disorders, and substance abuse.

Illustration works (pexels / Yan Krukov).
Illustration works (pexels / Yan Krukov).

To achieve these results, scientists scoured the research database for studies looking into the impact of shift work on adults’ cognitive performance.

Overall, 18 studies published between 2005 and 2020 looked at 18,802 participants with an average age of 35 years.

They found processing speed, working memory, alertness, impulse control and situational response (cognitive control), the ability to filter visual cues and the ability to consciously switch between tasks, to be low.

“Decreased neurobehavioural performance in shift workers may play an important role,” explain the researchers.

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According to them, preventive forms such as naps, recovery plans, and regular monitoring, should be promoted to minimize health risks.

Although this is the first combined data analysis to look at the impact of shift work on various aspects of brain function, the researchers admit there are limitations.

The study was published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine.