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Having irregular work hours may have long-term consequences for your health

A new study conducted at NYU has revealed that working unusual hours can have long-term impacts on health, even if individuals switch to jobs with more normal hours. While previous studies have shown that working outside of the traditional nine-to-five workday can negatively affect physical health, mental health, and family life, this new research suggests that the effects can persist.

The researchers analyzed data from over 7,000 adults over the age of 30 in the U.S. They found that individuals with more volatile work schedules, such as working overnights or early morning shifts, reported lower sleep quality and were more likely to experience depressive symptoms by age 50 compared to those who worked traditional hours. Additionally, the study found that Black Americans were more likely to have unusual work schedules associated with poorer health outcomes, indicating that certain groups are disproportionately affected by non-traditional work schedules.

Dr. Mallika Marshall is a physician and Emmy-award-winning journalist who has been reporting on health for CBS Boston/WBZ-TV for over 20 years. With Board Certifications in both Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, Dr. Marshall practices at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, where she is currently caring for patients with COVID-19 on the frontlines. She is also a host and contributing editor for Harvard Health Publications (HHP), the publishing division of Harvard Medical School.

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