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By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – People who work in shifts that are different than our traditional 9-5 work hours have been studied extensively over the years to get a greater sense of how these unusual hours affect their health.

Over the years we have learned that shift work can increase the risk of everything from depression to diabetes. The latest information is that shift work and the potential sleep disorders associated with it actually increase the risk of heart attack.

These are the numbers but if you are a shift worker and this is your job what can you do about it?

There are the obvious things like not smoking, watching your weight and exercising regularly. This is difficult but may be easy compared to the most important thing which is to try and develop a more normalized sleep schedule. This is clearly a major factor and I know it is not easy but essential to try and manage.

Those with the greatest issues are people who routinely switch shifts and have a difficult time with sleep regularity.

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