Livin' on the MDedge

Shift schedule today could worsen that stroke tomorrow


Body clocks and the shifting risks of stroke

Health care professionals, we’re sure, are no strangers to rotating shifts. And, as practitioners of the shiftly arts, you should know new research shows that working those kinds of hours can have lasting effects on your health. And it’s all based on your sleep-wake cycle.

Two clocks Wildpixel/

In a study published in Neurobiology of Sleep and Circadian Rhythms, investigators at Texas A&M University looked at the effects of working these kinds of shifts for a long period of time and then returning to a regular 24-hour cycle later in life. The study piggybacks on a previous study, which showed that rats on shift schedules had more severe stroke outcomes than those who were on a 24-hour cycle.

The current study demonstrates that working rotating shifts does have a lasting effect, by way of messing with the sleep-wake cycle. Based on the research, the rats that performed those kinds of shifts never got back to a normal schedule. When strokes occurred, outcomes were much worse, and the females had a higher mortality rate and more severe functional deficits than the males.

Now for the “good” news: Even if you’re among those who haven’t worked a rotating shift, you may not be safe either.

People who have regular working hours have a tendency to take work home and stay up late, especially with so many moving to a remote-work model. And if you’re staying up late on the weekends you’re producing what lead author David J. Earnest, PhD, called “social jet lag,” which messes with your circadian rhythm to wind you down for sleep. All of these things can lead to the same kind of effects that working rotating shifts has on your health, he said in a written statement.

How do you combat this? Dr. Earnest recommended creating a sleep schedule and setting regular mealtimes. Also ease up on high-fat foods, drinking, and smoking. The connection between your brain and gut also could play a part in how severe a stroke can be.

So continue to work hard, but not too hard.

Got 3 minutes? You got time for culture

Much like a Krabby Patty, art is good for your soul. Seriously, staring at a 500-year-old painting may not seem like much, but research has proven time and again that going to a museum and looking at paintings by long-dead artists you probably know better as pizza-eating superhero turtles improves mood, stress, and well-being.

The Japanese Footbridge by Claude Monet National Gallery of Art/rawpixel

A couple of years ago, however, museums and art galleries ran into a big virus-shaped problem. You may have heard of it. All of a sudden it became a very bad idea for people to gather together in one building and huddle around the Mona Lisa, which, by the way, is a lot smaller in person than you might expect. But, rather than sit around with a bunch of priceless art for an indeterminate amount of time, museums brought their exhibits to the Internet so that people from all over the world could see great works from their couches.

This is absolutely a good thing for public access, but do these virtual art exhibits provide the same health benefits as going to a museum in person? That’s what a group of European researchers aimed to find out, and in a study published in Frontiers of Psychology, that’s exactly what they found.

Their directive to the 84 study participants was simple: Take a well-being survey, engage with either of a pair of online exhibits (a Monet painting and a display of Japanese culinary traditions) for just 3 minutes, then take another well-being assessment. The results were quite clear: Even just a couple of minutes of viewing art online improved all the well-being categories on the survey, such as lowering anxiety, negative mood, and loneliness, as well as increasing subjective well-being. Also, the more beautiful or meaningful a person found the art, the more their mood and well-being improved.

The researchers noted that these results could help access in places where access to art is limited, such as waiting rooms, hospitals, and rural areas. Let’s just hope it sticks to that, and that big businesses don’t take notice. Just imagine them plastering ads with classic Renaissance artworks. After all, art makes you feel good, and you know what else feels good on a hot summer day? An ice-cold Coca-Cola! By the way, we’re taking offers, advertising agencies. The LOTME staff can absolutely be bought.


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