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Study ties shift work to sleep disorders


Photo: mixetto/iStockphoto

Assen, Netherlands — About half of people who work the night shift have at least one sleep disorder.

That’s a finding of a recent study led by researchers from the GGZ Drenthe Mental Health Institute, who distributed questionnaires to nearly 38,000 adult workers in Belgium. Respondents represented a variety of schedules – both conventional and shift-based – and provided information on sleep quality and duration.

Results show that half of the respondents who work night shifts slept six hours or less a day. Further, 51.1% of this group reported having at least one sleep disorder, such as insomnia, or abnormalities with sleep-related breathing or movement. More than a quarter of them (26.3%) reported developing at least two such disorders.

“To prevent sleep curtailment and sleep disorders, employers/occupational health practitioners should encourage good sleep health and give tools to deal with shift work as well as possible, both promoting optimal sleep during the resting period and wakefulness during working hours,” the researchers write.

The study was published online in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry.

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