Working night shifts has become a common scenario especially for multinational companies, media houses, call centres and customer care services. It’s convenient and sometimes beneficial to rotate the work cycle but it a pose a health risk for your sleep cycle and other issues connected with it.
A new study, published in the Journal Cell, warns that reversing your sleep cycle or following an odd sleep routine may be bad for you liver as it adapts to the cycles of feeding and fasting, and the alternating day and night within 24 hours.
Working the graveyard shift forces the body to operate counter to its circadian rhythm, the internal clock that tells us when we should be sleeping and when we should wake. Few people adapt easily or completely to such schedules.
A circadian rhythm is a roughly 24 hour cycle in the physiological processes of living beings, including plants, animals, fungi and cyanobacteria. In a strict sense, circadian rhythms are endogenously generated, although they can be modulated by external cues such as sunlight and temperature.
The disruption of our circadian clock due to professional constraints or private habits therefore probably has important repercussions on our liver functions, the researchers said.
The study was conducted in a mice model and it shows that size of the liver increases by almost half before returning to its original dimensions, according to the alternating phases of activity and rest.
Through their study, they further indicate that the cellular mechanisms of this fluctuation disappear when the normal biological rhythm of the body is reversed.
For the study, the mice were left to forage and feed at night, while the day was spent resting. It was seen that the size of liver cells and their protein content oscillate in a daily manner. First author of the study, Flore Sinturel from University of Geneva explains that in rodents who followed the normal circadian rhythm, the liver gradually increased during the active phase to reach a peak of more than 40 per cent at the end of the night, and it returned to its initial size during the day.
Researchers showed that the size of liver cells and their protein content oscillate in a daily manner.
The number of ribosomes and the organelles responsible for producing the proteins required for various functions of the liver also fluctuate with the size of the cell.
In mammals, the liver plays a pivotal role in metabolism and the elimination of toxins.
But many of us no longer live according to the rhythm of their circadian clock, due to night work hours, alternating schedules or frequent international travels.
However if mechanisms similar to those found in mice exist in humans, which is likely to be the case, the deregulation of our biological rhythms would have a considerable influence on hepatic functions, according to the researchers.
A liver (hepatic) function panel is a blood test to check how well the liver is working. This test measures the blood levels of total protein, albumin, bilirubin, and liver enzymes. High or low levels may mean that liver damage or disease is present.