Study: Rotating Shift Workers Have Lower Levels of Hormone That Helps Regulate Sleep

PEOPLE who work rotating shifts have significantly lower levels of serotonin, a hormone and neurotransmitter in the central nervous system believed to play an important role in the regulation of sleep, according to a study published in the Aug. 1 issue of the journal SLEEP.

The study, authored by Carlos J. Pirola, Ph.D., of the Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina, focused on 683 men of self-reported European ancestry, in which 437 day workers were compared with 246 rotating shift workers. Day and night work periods started at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. respectively. None of the subjects interchanged their job schedule.

The researchers said their results showed that serotonin content differed greatly between day workers and rotating shift workers, with levels of serotonin significantly higher in day workers.

"These findings may be important not only to understand the mechanisms related to the circadian rhythm desynchronization imposed by the rotating shift work regime, but also to target truly effective therapeutic strategies that may ameliorate the associated comorbidities and behavioral problems in rotating shift workers," Pirola said.

In addition to sleep problems, low levels of serotonin also are associated with other conditions such as anger, depression and anxiety.

Shift work sleep disorder is a circadian rhythm sleep disorder that occurs due to a work schedule that takes place during the normal sleep period. This schedule requires you to work when your body wants to sleep. Then you have to try to sleep when your body expects to be awake. The timing of when you sleep and wake is much different than what your internal body clock expects.

This sleep problem causes people to have trouble sleeping or to be severely tired. It is most often reported due to the night and early-morning shifts, the researchers siad. These workers typically sleep one to four hours less than average. They also feel that the quality of their sleep is very poor. They do not feel refreshed when they wake up. This can hinder their performance at work. It can also make them less alert. This can put them at risk of an injury on the job.

Sleep problems from shift work affect male and female workers of all age groups. Those who have unusual work hours are most likely to have it. Estimates are that two to five percent of the general population is affected.

Those who suspect they might be suffering from shift work sleep disorder, or another sleep problem, are urged to consult with their primary care doctor or a sleep specialist.

Download Center

  • The Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    When it comes to OSHA recordkeeping, there are always questions regarding the requirements and in and outs. This guide is here to help!

  • Lone Worker Safety Guide

    As organizations digitalize and remote operations become more commonplace, the number of lone workers is on the rise. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies. This guide was created to help employers better understand common lone worker risks and solutions for lone worker risk mitigation and incident prevention.

  • Online Safety Training Buyer's Guide

    Thinking of getting an online safety training solution at work but not sure how to evaluate different solutions and find the one that's best for your company? Use this handy buyer's guide to learn the basics of selecting online safety training and how to use it at your workplace.

  • SDS Software Buyer's Guide

    Whether this is your first time shopping for online SDS software or you’re upgrading from a legacy solution, this guide is designed for you to use in your search for the safety management solution that works best for you and your company.

  • Risk Matrix Guide

    Risk matrices come in many different shapes and sizes. Understanding the components of a risk matrix will allow you and your organization to manage risk effectively.

  • Vector Solutions

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - January February 2022

    January February 2022

    Featuring:

    • FACILITY SAFETY
      Industrial Facility Safety from the Loading Dock to the Plant Interior
    • COMBUSTIBLE DUST
      Tiny Particles: Big Booms
    • OIL & GAS
      Creating a Culture of Safety
    • PPE: HAND PROTECTION
      Innovative, Comfortable Hand Protection Option for Workers
    View This Issue