Working on shifts can disturb the body clock and result in loss of appetite, and may even cause depression, new research has indicated.
Researchers from Austria, who analyzed 16 different studies and looked at 19,000 people, found working in shifts is linked to poorer working memory and slower thinking speed.
The studies compared employees who worked fixed 9-5 shifts with those in rotating shifts. These included a mixture of healthcare professionals, police officers, and IT staff.
They were measured on six different outcomes: Processing speed, working memory, alertness, cognitive control, visual attention, and task switching In five out of six outcomes, results were significantly worse for the workers on shifts.
The researchers said the differences in shift workers' timings might play an important role regarding work-related injuries and errors, with implications for workplace health and safety as well.
How to deal with brain fog?
Post-Covid, many patients have complained of experiencing brain fog. "Brain fog can leave you feeling like you are unable to concentrate and makes even the smallest of decisions feel hard." explains UK-based neuro-linguistic programming coach Rebecca Lockwood.
"If you feel like you need a timeout, take one. Have no expectations of yourself and instead honour the feelings you have," she says.
Taking regular screen breaks can be another solution. "Staring at screens can cause you to go into foveal vision- this is when you are only focused on the thing right in front of you, and this alone can heighten stress levels," Lockwood says. She also recommends moving your phone somewhere out of your peripheral vision to avoid distractions.
Also, ensure you're drinking enough water and following a nutritious diet, says nutritionist Ekkie Busby. "Log all your food and supplements for a few days using a nutrient tracker," she adds. Taking a walk or practicing yoga can also help.
A diet to boost brain health
Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for brain development and growth, according to UK-based clinical nutritionist Roz Kadir.
She says: "Omega-3 is the 'good fat' that your body needs but cannot produce on its own. It is mostly found in oily fish and in some plant-based sources such as nuts. Be a good label reader and look out for foods that are fortified with omega-3 fatty acids. But be aware that the doses will be lower than that which is found in fish."
Eat plenty of salmon, anchovies, and sardines, as well as eggs, walnuts, avocados, and edamame beans to keep your diet rich in omega-3.