More and more learners are studying until late hours exposing them to many health risks: from sleep deprivation to an increased risk of diabetes and even cancer… In this article, we will discuss the risks associated with studying at night.
After conducting epidemiological studies in 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that studying at night can contribute to the development of cancers. At the same time, the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer has included night work in the list of potential carcinogens.
The increased risk of developing cancer is possibly linked to the disruption of the biological clock which leads to a decrease in the production of melatonin, the real sleep hormone. However, this hormone has a protective function against cancer and those who study at night produce less of it.
Other studies carried out on animals have shown that constant exposure to light during the night as well as time differences favor the appearance of tumors.
1. Gastrointestinal Disorders
The body’s organs work differently day and night. They are programmed to be active during the day and idle at night. This is especially the case with the digestive system. In a situation of nocturnal activity, the normal process of digestion will be disturbed because it will not be aligned with the biological clock.
It is also noted that those who study at night often suffer from gastrointestinal problems and digestive disorders, because they eat at times when the organs are programmed to rest.
According to WHO, the quality of the food of people who study at night is generally not excellent: they often prioritize fast food at the expense of healthy meals that take time to prepare. They are heavy consumers of sugary snacks or caffeinated drinks as they promote wake fullness during study.
Result: the risk of “raising cholesterol” (hypercholesterolemia), developing a stomach ulcer or suffering from gastrointestinal reflux increases considerably. In addition, those who study at night face constant fatigue (they have to struggle not to fall asleep), which leads them to consume caffeinated drinks and aggravates gastrointestinal problems.
2. Family and social life
Those who study at night say that their study often conflicts with their family and social life because they do not spend enough time with their spouse, children and friends. This aspect is very important for mental balance since as human beings, we need to create emotional bonds with others. The quantity and quality of time spent with loved ones is critical to our mental, emotional and physical health.
Lack of regular social contact can cause feelings of loneliness and isolation. In addition, lack of sleep among workers leads to mood disorders, making them more irritable and thus disrupting their social relationships.
3. The stress
The circadian rhythm controls many different hormones in our body, including cortisol, which is linked to stress levels. The more stressed a person is, the more cortisol they secrete.
Naturally, the level of cortisol is higher during the day and it decreases during the night. But it has been shown that in people who study at night, the level of cortisol during the day is higher. This situation generates sleep disorders in the latter since the stress leads to a state of hyper vigilance and, consequently, difficulty falling asleep.