"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Brain studies show that night shifts will be more disruptive for ladies than for men.

We all appreciate the importance of getting enough sleep. Not doing so affects our ability to work effectively, something that becomes painfully apparent during shift work, especially night shifts. Now research suggests that this sort of disruption to our every day rhythms could have a greater impact on women's brains than men's.

Our brain has a 24-hour clock that regulates some every day processes in our body corresponding to sleeping, following patterns. Circadian rhythm. One of those rhythms causes our brain to be more alert throughout the day and fewer alert at night, keeping us awake and alert. Sleep accordingly.

When we modify this “sleep-wake cycle” by forcing ourselves to get up at night and sleep throughout the day, as required for night shift work, our brain clocks don't change with it. are This is why working through the night is so difficult. Our brains usually are not as alert as they naturally need to sleep at night.

Some research suggests that girls are More affected by shift work. than men because they look like at greater risk of work-related injuries. This could also be partly attributable to social aspects corresponding to family responsibilities, ie women Work more and sleep less. on days off in comparison with men.

But there may be also an inherent difference between the brains of men and ladies. We've known since 1984 that girls's circadian brain clocks run faster than men's. Sleep longer. This is because of the work of Rutger Weaver, a number one human circadian rhythm researcher who studied human volunteers in a bunker protected by time signals.

Breaking the Cycle

Testing fatigue performance

We wondered whether the circadian rhythm of brain activity may also differ between men and ladies. Our new studyPublished within the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the effect of the brain clock on several measures of waking performance seemed to be stronger in women than in men.

For this study, we compared the brain function of 16 men and 18 women over a 10-day period. This variety of study was first described by an American sleep researcher. Nathaniel Cletman In the Nineteen Thirties, it involved placing participants in a clock-free environment with no external daylight to inform what time of day it was.

We put our participants through a 28-hour sleep-wake cycle and with none indication of what the actual time was, the natural rhythms of their brain clocks became synchronized with their sleep-wake schedules. Their sleep and wake times were at odds with the night and day of their brain clock, similar to when people work night shifts.

Every three hours while the participants were awake, we tested their attention, memory, and motor control skills, and asked them to rate the hassle required to finish the tasks, in addition to their sleep and mood levels. Stop. Because the participants' sleep-wake cycle differed from their brain clocks, they were asked to perform sometimes when their brain thought it was night and sometimes during brain day.

Lack of skills

The results showed that many features of waking performance are affected by the brain's clock. In general, the brain's performance in the talents we tested was worse throughout the night than throughout the day. Performance also worsened the longer participants were awake.

These effects were more pronounced in each men and ladies for some objective measures corresponding to working memory than for self-reported measures corresponding to sleepiness. But we also found that, on average, women experienced a greater decline in performance than men, especially after being awake for a very long time within the early morning, as people might experience during a 12-hour shift, for instance. as

Our study is a rigorously controlled laboratory study in a comparatively small group of young men and ladies, so larger studies in real-life settings could be essential. But the larger implication is that our ability to reply to night waking – and the way it could affect our job performance – could also be influenced by individual differences corresponding to our gender.