NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search
Shiftwork: health and performance effects.
Environmental and occupational medicine. Rom WN, Renzetti AD Jr., Lee JS, Archer VE, eds. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, 1983 Jan; :751-755
Research on the effects of shift work on sleep, health, safety, and performance is reviewed. Studies show that individuals who work at night receive less sleep than those on daylight schedules and that workers on rotating shifts receive less overall sleep than do workers on permanent schedules. Daytime sleep produces a shorter rapid eye movement latency, fewer absolute minutes of rapid eye movement sleep, less total sleep time, a greater percentage of slow wave sleep, and less absolute stage 1 sleep time. Studies have failed to show consistent health effects associated with shiftwork. It is possible that stresses associated with shiftwork have an indirect impact on health by exaggerating preexisting health problems, altering the dose responses of medications as a result of circadian variability, or increasing susceptibility to physical and chemical agents in the workplace. Animal studies suggest that prolonged dysynchrony may have an adverse effect on health and life expectancy. Field research on the safety and performance effects of shiftwork has been inconclusive because of contamination of cross sectional shift comparisons by extraneous differences in the nature and conditions of the work being performed. However, laboratory studies show circadian variations in performance efficiency. The relationship between time of day, physiological measures, and performance depends on the nature of the task performed. Sleep deprivation reduces performance. Work capacity, sensory acuity, and neuromuscular activity appear to be impaired during night hours. The author concludes that continued research will help to develop a shift system with improved worker compatibility.
Medical-research; Task-performance; Work-analysis; Job-stress; Work-intervals; Industrial-environment; Industrial-factory-workers; Biological-rhythms; Sleep-deprivation; Quantitative-analysis; Humans
Rom-WN; Renzetti-AD-Jr; Lee-JS; Archer-VE
Environmental and occupational medicine
Page last reviewed: May 5, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division