Did you know you lose 1 percent of your height—nearly two-thirds of an inch if you’re an average-sized man—between the time you get up in the morning and the time you go to bed?
That’s strange enough. But thanks to job stress, that shrinkage is even greater on workdays, says new Swiss research.
How come? When you’re upright, gravity and motion squeeze fluid from between the vertebrae of your spine. And stress creates muscle tension in your shoulders and back that forces out even more fluid than usual, making you shorter, the study authors explain.
But that’s not the only weird way work stress messes with your body.
It also makes you ears ring. In a Swedish study, men were 39 percent more likely to report hearing loss or ringing when faced with the stress of having to change jobs. The reason: Stress and anxiety hormones appear to cause harmful stimulation within your ear’s cochlear receptors, the study authors say.
And your skin itch. When your boss has you working like a dog, it can trigger unusual activity in the parts of your brain related to “central itch control”. That can lead to itchiness, rashes, or other skin conditions, finds a European review study.
It shrinks your brain, too. According to Yale University research, stress ups the presence of proteins that slow or shut down your brain’s ability to grow synapses, which are the junctions where neurons exchange messages. This leads to a loss of mass in your brain’s prefrontal cortex—the part of your noodle involved in decision making. This stress-induced brain shrinkage may even be related to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers say.
And it gives you a stomach ache. Brain-gut interactions aren’t well understood. But stress hormones appear to over-stimulate the areas of the brain responsible for intestine regulation, which can lead to nausea and stomach irritation, shows research from UCLA.