New medical study could bring help for night workers - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

New medical study could bring help for night workers

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Doctors have known for years that people who work overnight or changing shifts often suffer sleep apnea, heart problems, and other serious health issues.

New research shows there might be an internal clock in your blood cells that can lead to vascular disease if disrupted.

South Georgia Doctors say this new study could bring  help for those workers.

Doctors at the Phoebe Sleep Disorder Clinic see hundreds of patients each month, many having problems because they work night shifts.

Neurologist Dr. Alan Little said "Our society is a 24 hour society."

There are hundreds of jobs, from factory workers, to truck drivers, to public safety, that require people to work at night and sleep during the day, going against the body's internal clock called the circadian rhythms.

Dr. Little said "People who work nights are at an increased risk for heart attack, stroke, the metabolic syndrome, and diabetes. And we don't understand all these associations."

Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia think they have found that link inside your blood cells. A new study found "Disrupting two of the genes responsible for the circadian rhythm within cells led to vascular disease."

Doctors who study sleep patterns of affected patients say this new finding could bring hope to people who can't get restful sleep during the day.

Little said "He quit breathing for a little over 30 seconds and then he jumped. There's leg kicks in there."

New study that Doctors hope will lead to better sleep, and improve the risk of associated cardiovascular diseases.

Dr. Little said "We can help them have more restorative sleep, better sleep during the day, and be functional at night."

Now Doctors will look to what they call a master pacemaker in your own blood vessel genes to see if that help for sleep disorders can bring better health to people who's internal clock is thrown off by shift work.

Doctors say revolving shifts where workers rotate between day and night shifts are better for your health than constant night shifts.

Dr. Little recommends people who work at night don't smoke, control their weight, and exercise to improve their health.

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