WELLNESS
09/02/2014 05:24 pm ET Updated Sep 03, 2014

How Working The Overnight Shift Can Hurt Your Health (WATCH)

Working the night shift doesn’t just affect your sleep cycle -- it can also take a significant toll on your overall health.

Rashid Temuri, a Chicago-based taxi driver, joined HuffPost Live host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani to share how he's been impacted by working long hours and overnight shifts.

“I would definitely say that driving full-time, regardless what hours, does affect your health in a very bad way,” said Temuri. “I definitely rely on some sort of caffeine so I can work for a couple more hours and make a little bit more money."

Dr. Michael Breus, a board certified sleep specialist, joined the conversation to explain how increased caffeine intake can negatively affect cognitive ability.

“Caffeine only masks your sleepiness," Breus said. "It doesn’t make you feel sleepy, but your reaction time is still lowered [and] your thinking time is still lowered. It's not a replacement for sleep."

There's also a link between sleep deprivation -- which can be common for night shift workers -- and the likeliness an overnight shift worker will eat poorly, looking to "high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods” for a jolt of energy. Breus explains that sleep deprivation increases levels of the stress hormones cortisol in the brain, and these types of food can temporarily calm the stress hormones down. For this reason, night shift workers may be at risk for gaining weight.

To hear more of the conversation, watch the full HuffPost Live segment here.

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