Purpose of review: Night shift work has become highly prevalent in our 24/7 societies, with up to 18% of the US work force working alternate shift schedules. However, studies indicate that there may be adverse health effects of chronic night work across diverse populations. These effects are likely due to misalignment of the circadian system with work schedules, mediated by the system's primary marker melatonin as well as other downstream molecules.
Recent findings: Melatonin has multiple biologic actions that are relevant to cardiometabolic disease, including modulation of oxidative stress, inflammation, and (via the melatonin receptor) vasoconstriction. Behavioral traits, such as chronotype and meal timing, have recently been shown to interact with the effects of night work on cardiometabolic health. Together with recent findings suggesting a role for circadian genes in cardiometabolic risk, the interactions of night shift work and behavioral traits are likely to facilitate novel treatment and prevention approaches for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, incorporating aspects of clock and timing.
Keywords: Cardiometabolic; Cardiovascular; Circadian misalignment; Diabetes; Inflammation; Night work.