Researchers say that freelancers and umbrella company contractors that routinely undergo night shift work are most likely melting their brains.
Well, not exactly. A new research study from the University of Swansea says that people who spend long swathes of time working “anti social” hours – in other words, burning the midnight oil whilst the rest of us get some much-needed sleep – can age your brain quicker than normal. The researchers found that working overnight shifts for a decade will increase your “brain age” by an additional six years.
Thankfully, you can get your brain back to normal if you start working during the day like normal people. Still, it could take your brain another half a decade before returning to normal, or however normal you might be.
Freelancers and contractors are of course no stranger to pulling the occasional all-nighter. However, most contract workers know better than to work long swathes of time from sundown to sunup; one of the best things about working for yourself and not as an employee is that you can more or less set your own hours and pick and choose when you work as well as where. Still, there’s an allure to taking on shift work at night because it usually pays more – and traditional employees can and have done those anti-social working hours for weeks, months and yes even years at a time.
For what it’s worth, you don’t need a fancy research study to point out that this is a terrible idea. Humans are designed to be active during the day and to sleep at night, and going against millions of years of evolution is a good way to bollocks up your entire body. Staying up late into the night has also been linked with obesity and might even be related to higher risk of breast cancer, so it’s just one of the worst things you can do to your body on a consistent basis.
So there you have it: burning the midnight oil might be good for an occasional late-night project (or for university students to finish their studies) but it’s no way to live your life. No matter how much money an employer or a client throws at you for working during the hours that normal, sane people are sleeping, tell them they can take that cash and just jog on. Your health is too important, if you ask me!