Shift work 'can be more dangerous than drugs'

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The Independent Online
SHIFTWORK can leave a person's body clock in a 'perpetual state of disarray' and be more dangerous than drugs, a health specialist warned yesterday.

Workers on night shifts were more irritable, less alert, quicker to make mistakes at work and lethargic at home, Dr Aric Sigman said. Rotating shift patterns were even worse.

'Changing working hours every few days or weeks can cause not only sleep deprivation, but also an effect described as like having permanent jet lag,' he said.

Workers in a whole range of jobs, including investment and electronic media as well as factory production, faced getting jet lag 'without even having the pleasure of leaving the country', he said.

Shiftwork could also place stress on the family, especially children, who missed having a parent around the house in the evenings, Dr Sigman said in an article in the Institute of Personnel Management's magazine.

''Shiftwork can create a sense of isolation by making it much more difficult to see friends or even ring someone up for a chat,' he added.