|In 2007 the World Health Organization declared shift work a probable carcinogen. Yeah, you read that right: working at the wrong time can kill you.
And cancer isn't the only problem it causes. If horror movies don't give you nightmares, the list of health problems associated with shift work will. So what's the deal here?
Shift work messes with your circadian rhythm. Now "circadian rhythm" might sound to some like iffy pseudoscience. Far from it. It has so much credibility that it has incredibility. Michael Rosbash won the Nobel Prize in medicine in 2017 for his work on it.
There are no two ways about it: humans are diurnal. We're designed to be awake when it's light out and asleep when it's dark. Sure, we can be nocturnal but we weren't built for it and if you stay on that schedule too long, things get wonky.
Well, anyway, good thing we're not shift workers, right?
Problem is, these days all of us basically are.
From The Circadian Code:
Professor Till Roenneberg, a researcher in Munich, surveyed more than 50,000 people in Europe and the United States and found that the majority of people either go to bed after midnight or wake up early with insufficient sleep. Similarly, people also follow different bedtime schedules on weekdays and weekends.
This, combined with our bright screen use at night, means we're all living like shift workers to some degree. And our bodies weren't built for this. As we discussed in my recent post on exercise, the way we live our modern lives has "some problems” in the same way the Pacific Ocean has “some water.”
Timing matters in life, even more than you think. We're not talking about clever productivity hacks here; we're talking about much more important stuff like your health. And biology doesn't like to negotiate. For your body, "no" is a complete sentence. So what do we do?
Luckily, experts have answers. I went down the research rabbit hole and patched together insights from a number of fancy-pants sources: Satchin Panda at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Daniel Lieberman at Harvard, and Andrew Huberman at Stanford. They're gonna tell us how to get our circadian rhythm back on track for increased health, happiness and productivity.
Let’s get to it...