Type 2 diabetes is a life-changing diagnosis, and the amount of time you put in at work each week may significantly increase your risk. Researchers from the University College London discovered the danger in working too many hours and published their study in the journal The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.

It isn’t the accountant who works long hours during tax season or the nurse who has been working overtime that has to worry though; it’s actually the manual laborers or those with “low socioeconomic status jobs.” When researchers examined the data from 222,120 men and women throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, and Australia over a 7.6-year period, they found the exact number of hours per week could pose a danger to their health. At first, researchers thought all people who worked more than 55 hours a week shared the increased risk of type 2 diabetes compared to those who worked just 40 to 45 hours a week with no increased risk.

But when researchers took a closer look at the data, they found those who were working a manual labor job or other low paying, blue collar job, their risk of developing type 2 diabetes increased by 30 percent. The risk remained even after they looked at well-known diabetes risk factors, such as smoking, exercise levels, age, gender, and body mass index. Shift work, meaning those who work nights or rotating shifts also have an increased risk of obesity, which is linked to type 2 diabetes risk.

Shift workers even have a condition named after them because of the severity of health implications a strange sleep cycle can have on a person, called the “shift work sleep disorder.” People who work obscure hours or a long work week may have less time for exercise, relaxation, and of course, the needed seven to nine hours of sleep a night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a shift work disorder causes excessive sleepiness, insomnia, unrefreshing sleep, difficulty concentrating during waking hours, lack of energy, irritability, depression, and difficulty maintaining personal relationships.

"Although working long hours is unlikely to increase diabetes risk in everyone, health professionals should be aware that it is associated with a significantly increased risk in people doing low socioeconomic status jobs," the study’s coauthor Mika Kivimaki professor of epidemiology at University College London in England said in a press release.

Working long hours isn’t new to a lot of blue collar workers because they need to provide for their family on a lower budget. By implementing a healthy sleep schedule into their already busy schedule, they’ll have more energy to accomplish more throughout the day such as exercise, which then stimulates a healthy diet.

Diet maintenance is key to lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes, so when one good habit leads to another it’ll allow the overworked person to stop their health from slowing them down. Try sticking to the same bedtime and wakeup time, even on the weekends, and try to implement a relaxing bedtime ritual, such as a hot shower or yoga session. It’s also important to have a quiet, comfortable, and dark room to induce some zzz’s and get health back on track.

Source: Kivimäk M. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. 2014.