When the majority of us tuck ourselves up in bed on an evening, it's easy to forget about the army of night-time workers that are only just beginning their working day. Without them, hospitals, roads, emergency services and many other unnoticed-until-you-need-them services would just come to a standstill, resulting in bedlam the next day when the regular nine 'till five workers awake.
Working the night shift is rarely something that's looked forward to, and now there's another reason why setting out to work after the sun has set is resented. According to the BBC, a new study carried out by the Sleep Research Centre in Surrey has taken steps towards demonstrating the physical and mental toll that working nights has on the body.
Having followed 22 people in a transition from day to night shift patterns, scientists were able to look at genes in blood samples from the members. This meant that they could actually see the times of day in which we are programmed to function, at the most molecular level.
In night workers, "Over 97% of rhythmic genes become out of sync with mistimed sleep and this really explains why we feel so bad during jet lag, or if we have to work irregular shifts," said Dr Simon Archer, researcher at the University of Surrey.
The study also showed that this imbalance at a genetic level could lay the path for an increased risk in heart attacks, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Though a short-term study, the overall effects of working night shifts are not to be underestimated – and that's just another reason why we need to be so grateful for the night-owl workers.