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Social jetlag and sleep debts are altered in different rosters of night shift work

Background: Night and shift work are suspected to cause various adverse effects on health and sleep. Sleep deprivation through shift work is assumed to be compensated on free days. So far it is not clear how different shift systems and shift lengths affect sleep structure on work and free days. Especially working night shifts disrupts the circadian rhythm but also extended working hours (12h) might affect sleep characteristics. Hitherto, the magnitude of sleep debt, social jetlag, and Locomotor Inactivity During Sleep (LIDS) in different shift systems is unknown.

Methods: Here, we investigated the impact of five different shift rosters on sleep in 129 industrial workers from Germany. Permanent night work with multiple shift systems with and without night shifts and with different shift lengths were compared. Wrist-activity was monitored over 28 days revealing sleep on- and offsets as well as LIDS as proxy for sleep quality. Overall, 3,865 sleep bouts comprising 22,310 hours of sleep were examined.

Results: The mean daily age-adjusted sleep duration (including naps) was 6:43h and did not differ between shift workers of different rosters. However, sleep duration on workdays was particularly low in rotational shift systems with 12h-shifts (5:00h), while overall sleep debt was highest. Shift workers showed a median absolute social jetlag of 3:03h, which differed considerably between shift types and rosters (p<0.0001). Permanent night workers had the highest social jetlag (5:08h) and latest mid-sleeps on workdays and free days. Sleep quality was reduced in permanent night shift workers compared with shift workers in other rosters and differed between daytime and nighttime sleep.

Conclusions: Shift work leads to partial sleep deprivation, which particularly affects workers in 12h-shifts and permanent night shifts. Working these shifts resulted in higher sleep debts and larger absolute social jetlag whereas sleep quality was especially reduced in permanent night shift workers compared with shift workers of other rosters.

The complete article is published in the Journal "PLoS ONE" (2022).

Bibliographic information

S. Casjens, F. Brenscheidt, A. Tisch, B. Beermann, T. Brüning, T. Behrens, S. Rabstein:
Social jetlag and sleep debts are altered in different rosters of night shift work. 
in: PLoS ONE, Volume 17, Issue 1 2022. pages 1-14, Project number: F 2409, PDF file, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0262049

download file "Social jetlag and sleep debts are altered in different rosters of night shift work" (PDF, 926 KB, Not barrier-free file)

Research Project

Project numberF 2409 StatusOngoing Project A longitudinal study on social, psychological, and physiological consequences of permanent night shifts and 12-hour shifts

Find out more : A longitudinal study on social, psychological, and physiological consequences of permanent night shifts and 12-hour shifts …

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