Researchers have shown how working night shifts disrupts hunger, appetite, and eating behaviours, sometimes leading to weight gain. A group of researchers from the University of Bristol in the UK claim that hormones that control hunger are impacted by circadian misalignment, or the disturbance of the body's biological clock brought on by working night shifts.
The adrenal gland, which is located close to the kidney and secretes hormones known as glucocorticoids that regulate a variety of physiological processes, including appetite and metabolism, was the team's main focus. Jet lag is another common symptom linked to circadian misalignment.
A misalignment between light and dark cues led to a disturbance in the functioning of these hormones that then affected the appetite of the jet-lagged group of animals, driving an increased desire to eat significantly more during the inactive phase of the day, the scientists said in their study published in the journal Communications Biology.
"For those who are working night shifts long-term, we recommend they try to maintain daylight exposure, cardiovascular exercise and mealtimes at regulated hours. However, internal brain messages to drive increased appetite are difficult to override with 'discipline' or 'routine' so we are currently designing studies to assess rescue strategies and pharmacological intervention drugs," said senior author Becky Conway-Campbell, Research Fellow at Bristol.