Health risks of night shift work

In the Netherlands about 1.3 million people sometimes or regularly work at night. Night shift work disrupts the day-night rhythm of the body, which may lead to adverse health effects. Working at night causes health problems on the short term. Sleeping problems are estimated to be 1.5 to 2 times as common for night shift workers than for day shift workers. There is also strong evidence for adverse health effects on the long term. Night work increases the risk of diabetes mellitus (type 2) and cardiovascular diseases, and this risk increases with the number of years of night shifts. Research is not clear concerning the risk of breast cancer. Due to a lack of data, no conclusions may be drawn about the relationships between night shift work and other diseases at this time. Based on the evidence on the adverse health effects, the Health Council advises the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment to limit working at night where possible.