Sleep deprivation associated with working during regular sleeping hours, or
working shifts, can be detrimental to awareness and alertness. In turn, working
around heavy equipment or behind the wheel can be dangerous if you're not
sufficiently alert. Less clear is whether or how other factors such as work
stress and sleep quality interact with shift work to affect cognitive function.
In addition, given gender differences in the processes involving sleep, health,
and stress, it is also unclear if these factors may affect cognition
differently in women and men.
To find out, investigators at the National Institute for Occupational Safety
and Health (NIOSH) and their Canadian partners examined the relative effects of
different variables on cognitive function, including work stress, shift work,
and sleep quality. In a paper published in the journal Occupational and
Environmental Medicine, they reported that women generally had fewer hours of
sleep, poorer sleep quality, and greater work-related stress compared to men.
However, they found no difference between women and men in the effect of shift
work on self-assessed cognitive function. Health and age also played an
important role on cognition directly and through sleep. According to the
investigators, these findings underscore the need for occupational health and
safety programs that address cognitive function among all shift workers by
focusing on stress, health, and sleep hygiene.
The study used data from 4,255 respondents to Canada's National Population
Health Survey in 2010. Participants' average age was 43, and slightly more than
half were women. All participants held jobs, with 75% working regular daytime
hours and the remainder working either shift hours, rotating day and night
hours, or on-call hours.
AplusA-online.de - Source: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)