Shift work, diabetes and light therapy study is underway
Last April (here's the initial post) we got involved with a European study into the circadian rhythms of shift workers and the apparent link with diabetes - shift workers have a 5-fold higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than individuals who have never worked night shifts.
The aim of the 12-week project was to learn more about the cause-and-effect relationship between circadian rhythm disturbances and the development of Type 2 diabetes and to also investigate whether simple lifestyle interventions (e.g. exercise, light exposure) can have real clinical benefits for people working shifts.
Lumie Brazil lightboxes are being used in the EuRhythDia shiftwork and diabetes study.
65 night shift workers at centres in Germany, Italy and Austria are trying light therapy using Brazil, our most powerful lightbox. Workers doing three or more consecutive night shifts switch on Brazil each evening for the first half of the shift only. In addition, they get an extra hour of light therapy within three hours of waking up on non-shift days. Apart from that, workers stick to their usual diet, exercise plan and sleep-wake pattern.
With some people just completing the initial 12-week trial, Project coordinator, Prof Rainer Böger from the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany says “The study participants feel very satisfied with this intervention. Those who have already finished the study reported that their subjective well-being was much improved by the light therapy. They were not only able to cope better with the work at night, but they also observed that it took them less time to re-adjust to a normal day-night cycle after the night shifts. This helped them to maintain their social life more easily.”
The EuRhythDia’s researchers now aim to study if – beyond the subjective well-being of the study participants – this treatment also helps to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes mellitus.
“We are eager to see if light therapy offers an easy and effective means of helping to maintain the health of our working population. The light therapy devices can conveniently be placed on any work desk, our study participants report; many of them asked if they may keep the light therapy device even after the end of the study”, Professor Böger says.