Controlled light exposure and intermittent fasting as treatment strategies for metabolic syndrome and gut microbiome dysregulation in night shift workers.Physiol Behav. 2023 05 01; 263:114103.PB
The mammalian circadian clocks are entrained by environmental time cues, such as the light-dark cycle and the feeding-fasting cycle. In modern society, circadian misalignment is increasingly more common under the guise of shift work. Shift workers, accounting for roughly 20% of the workforce population, are more susceptible to metabolic disease. Exposure to artificial light at night and eating at inappropriate times of the day uncouples the central and peripheral circadian clocks. This internal circadian desynchrony is believed to be one of the culprits leading to metabolic disease. In this review, we discuss how alterations in the rhythm of gut microbiota and their metabolites during chronodisruption send conflicting signals to the host, which may ultimately contribute to disturbed metabolic processes. We propose two behavioral interventions to improve health in shift workers. Firstly, by carefully timing the moments of exposure to blue light, and hence shifting the melatonin peak, to improve sleep quality of daytime sleeping episodes. Secondly, by timing the daily time window of caloric intake to the biological morning, to properly align the feeding-fasting cycle with the light-dark cycle and to reduce the risk of metabolic disease. These interventions can be a first step in reducing the worldwide burden of health problems associated with shift work.