Is Shift Work Sleep Disorder a Risk Factor for Metabolic Syndrome and Its Components? A Systematic Review of Cross-Sectional Studies

Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2022 Feb;20(1):1-10. doi: 10.1089/met.2021.0070. Epub 2021 Oct 8.


Shift work sleep disorder is prevalent in night shift workers due to prolonged misalignment of the circadian rhythm. Night shift workers comprise a significant portion of the workforce and it is important to study the potential implications on their health. Studies have shown the association of metabolic syndrome (MetS) and the components, that is, obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and insulin resistance, with shift workers. Nocturnal exposure to bright light can affect various physiological processes including melatonin secretion, which is a regulator in insulin synthesis. A systematic review was conducted to identify studies showing the association between shift work and MetS and/or its components, as well as to review the pathophysiology for further investigations. This review follows the guidelines as per the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) checklist 2009. One thousand nine hundred ten records were identified from the PubMed database using both keywords and medical subject headings terms. After applying the inclusion/exclusion and eligibility criteria, 18 observational studies were included in the qualitative synthesis. Quality appraisal was conducted by two investigators independently using the Newcastle/Ottawa Scale, and 11 articles were finalized for the review after scoring 60% and above. Each study measured the different components of MetS and/or the presence of MetS. Statistically significant results were reported for the association between shift work and MetS, shift work and obesity, shift work and dyslipidemia, shift work and hypertension, and shift work and insulin resistance. This review identifies a need to emphasize treatment plans for shift workers to manage not only sleep disorders but other chronic diseases such as MetS, obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and insulin resistance.

Keywords: circadian rhythm disorder; dyslipidemia; insulin resistance; metabolic syndrome; obesity; shift work.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypertension* / complications
  • Hypertension* / etiology
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Metabolic Syndrome* / epidemiology
  • Metabolic Syndrome* / etiology
  • Obesity / complications
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Sleep Disorders, Circadian Rhythm* / complications
  • Sleep Disorders, Circadian Rhythm* / epidemiology