A study published recently in the Journal of Biological Rhythms (2013;28:356-359) shows that diabetes is more likely to develop in people who do any amount of night-shift work.
The study, by Timothy H. Monk, PhD, DSc, and Daniel J. Buysse, MD, of the University of Pittsburgh, included a heterogenous sample of 1,111 retired men and women, stratified by the number of years doing night shift work (past 9 pm, non-overtime basis). The rates of diabetes and elevated BMI were higher among individuals who had done any shiftwork compared with those who worked only daytime jobs. The rates did not differ based on the number of years spent working the night shift.
The focus for physicians treating patients working night shifts should be encouraging healthy lifestyle habits, maintaining normal rhythms, and an adequate sleep schedule, and decreasing night-shift work whenever possible.