Working night shifts can do irreversible damage to your DNA, says study


  • Sleep deprived people showed 30% more damaged DNA than those having adequate sleep.
  • Disrupted sleep patterns can also lead to damage in DNA
  • A research by few scientists has shown nocturnal working schedules can even reduce life expectancy by nearly six years.
Health risks of working night shifts are fairly well known. But a new study has revealed a much more sobering finding.

According to a study published in the Anesthesia journal, lack of sleep may affect a person’s genetics by damaging the structure of a person’s DNA. This may in turn increase the risk of cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disease, including cancer.

According to the study, DNA repair gene expression was found to be lower at baseline among night workers, decreasing further after being deprived of sleep.

The study also showed that working overnight resulted in 30% higher DNA breaks compared to those don’t work night shifts. The DNA damage could see a 25% increase following a night of acute sleep deprivation.

The study was conducted by a research team from University of Hong Kong who collected blood samples of 49 healthy doctors between the ages of 28 and 33, after three days of them sleeping well and then later after being put through sleep deprivation.

In addition to sleep deprivation, disrupted sleeping patterns may also cause DNA damage, said a researcher from the university.

This study is the latest one pointing out health risks of night shifts, which are known to disturb circadian rhythms. In fact, according to some scientists, nocturnal working schedules can even reduce life expectancy by nearly six years.

Another study by a nutrition researcher that analysed sleep patterns and rotational working hours, told that such habits have shown to mark an increase in diabetes risks. According to that, the risk of having diabetes went up to 31% in every five years for people losing sleep over night shift hours.