Do Night Shifts Increase the Risk of BPPV?
Human evolution did not come across the concept of night shift until the American genius Edison invented the electric bulb. Before that, there were occasional cases of night raids during battles, and, of course, some insomniac writers would burn the midnight oil to follow their passion. However, by no means was it a norm for people to engage in their professional work at night — the lack of sufficient light be the primary reason for it.
The dark side of night shift jobs
Though the productivity soared with the advent of night shifts, a host of health issues also accompanied it as human evolution so far has shaped humankind to slog only during the daytime. A night shift job tends to distort the circadian rhythm of the workers. Around 50 percent of night-shift workers tend to suffer from sleep deprivation. It derives them of the sound sleep associated with night for which the human body and mind have evolved. This sleep deprivation tends to act as a harmful factor for all these night shift workers. These workers may suffer from a host of other medical conditions like diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, high cholesterol level, and hypertension. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is also such a health condition that mostly affects people working in the night shift. A recently conducted research indicates an association between night shifts and BPPV.
You can get a hint of the issues associated with BPPV by carefully glancing at its full form. It induces vertigo in specific head positions (for example, while tying laces, moving out of the bed, tilting the head back and staring downwards).
The inner ear (labyrinth) is the organ (or part of an organ to be specific) tasked to maintain the balance of the body. It shoulders the responsibility to send appropriate signals to the brain and thus aid it to maintain the balance of the body. The labyrinth of the ear consists of canals (also called otolith organs), which contains ear fluid and canaliths (minute calcium carbonate crystals). In people with BPPV, these canaliths are dislodged from their ideal position, and they clamp the canal, interrupting the signal transmission from the inner ear to the brain. As a result, the brain can no longer accurately judge the body position and the individual experiences dizziness.
According to a recent study conducted in a large dizziness clinic, BPPV induced vertigo in 17% of the patients. As can be noted by the first word in BPPV’s expanded form, “Benign,” it is usually not a serious condition and can be treated easily. However, people suffering from this medical condition must be vigilant as BPPV tends to trigger vertigo.
Vertigo is the feeling of losing balance or a sense of spinning that may result in a fall. People tend to describe their experience of vertigo as a feeling of dizziness. Moreover, they add that while experiencing vertigo, they felt as if the entire surrounding was spinning. It generally occurs when there is an issue with the labyrinth of the ear, a sensory nerve pathway, or even the brain. Though it may occur in people of all ages, it is usually more prevalent in the elderly (age greater than 65). The terms experienced by an individual for vertigo can be both short and long (mostly depending on circumstances like addictions, food habits, working hours, sleep patterns, and physical activities (exercise). Apart from the abovementioned BPPV, Meniere’s disease and Vestibular neuritis may also facilitate vertigo.
Now that it has been established that vertigo is the main symptom associated with BPPV. Let’s see what measures can be taken for vertigo relief. Simple physical exercises like the Epley maneuver, Semont-Toupet maneuver, and Brandt-Daroff exercise can come in handy. Along with that, an individual prone to vertigo may also try apt stress management, abstain from alcohol, hydrate adequately, consume Gingko Biloba extract, and get vitamin D to avoid vertigo experience. Still, one has to keep in mind that adequate sleep is of paramount importance in order to hold off future vertigo experiences.
Working night shifts does increase the chance of BPPV; however, in certain circumstances and professions, night shifts cannot be totally avoided. To safeguard oneself from the possible periodic vertigo attacks in a BPPV condition, an individual can try the abovementioned remedies. These good practices, in general, would at least minimize the risks associated with BPPV.