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  • 10 May 2018
  • 2 min read

Is there a link between night shift nursing work and obesity?

  • Kathryn Stock
    Nursing Home Night Sister

Kathryn Stock evaluates whether working night shifts as a Nursing Home Nurse have contributed towards struggles with her weight.

I’ve been working four nights per week in nursing homes for the past 18 months, and I have never felt so fat! Much to my dismay, I’ve risen from a size 12 which I've been since my late teens, to a size 16/18.

I am now in my early 50's.

I am frustrated at my inability to shift the pounds, despite cutting out sugar and watching what I eat.

It's demoralising.

I don't want to be fat.

I’ve been blaming myself and of course, I should take responsibility.

After all, it is me who puts the food in my mouth.

Upset by my lack of progress despite huge efforts, and because many people I work with also have weight issues, I decided to consider whether there was a link between my increased night work, and my inability to lose weight.

To my surprise, I found, there is.

Studies have started to show not only a link between night work and obesity, but also to show why.

In a report published in October 2017, researchers from the Chinese University in Hong Kong studied shift patterns and how it impacted someone's health.

Their findings suggested:

● Those who work night shifts are at higher risk of developing obesity

● The melatonin levels in the brain are altered when sleep patterns are changed, impacting the metabolism

● People who work night shifts have a 35% higher risk of obesity as the nocturnal schedule derails their metabolism,

● Artificial light during night shifts disrupts the brain's melatonin levels and hinders the body's metabolism,

● Night shift workers gain weight quicker because the metabolism is working slower than normal,

● Despite suffering disturbed sleep, night shift workers burned up to 15% fewer calories.

Experts recommend altering the work schedule to avoid working night hours to reduce the global obesity epidemic.

So, there is reason why I am finding it so difficult to lose weight.

What I need now is an eating plan which takes into account night shifts and their effects so that not only can I lose weight but can keep it off in the future.

Any ideas?

About the author

  • Kathryn Stock
    Nursing Home Night Sister

I have been a qualified Nurse for over 25 years. In this time, I’ve worked in many different areas both in and out of hospital, in the NHS and the private sector, in a direct nursing role, and in roles that need nursing qualifications, but are more administrative and less hands on. I am now a Night Sister in a nursing home, and I feel privileged to have a job that I enjoy and which leaves me feeling I’ve made a positive difference to people's lives.

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  • Kathryn Stock
    Nursing Home Night Sister

About the author

  • Kathryn Stock
    Nursing Home Night Sister

I have been a qualified Nurse for over 25 years. In this time, I’ve worked in many different areas both in and out of hospital, in the NHS and the private sector, in a direct nursing role, and in roles that need nursing qualifications, but are more administrative and less hands on. I am now a Night Sister in a nursing home, and I feel privileged to have a job that I enjoy and which leaves me feeling I’ve made a positive difference to people's lives.