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Irregular working hours can be a problem

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Workers assigned to irregular hours can become permanently jet-lagged leading to possible exhaustion and depression, a report says.

Working unpredictable hours also can cause other problems such as insomnia and memory lapses, concluded a survey by the Swiss insurance group Zurich.

One in seven people questioned who did shift work reported almost nodding off while driving, the BBC said. A fifth suffered from insomnia and more than one in 10 experienced depression.

Police officers, firefighters and nurses were typical of those workers in the front line working difficult hours. Almost a fifth worked shifts lasting between 16 and 18 hours a day and one in 10 worked for 24 hours at one stretch.

Suggestions from Zurich to combat stress caused by long and unpredictable shifts include eating high protein food, exercising regularly and taking power naps.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International

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