Too Little Sleep Common for Night Warehousing, Transport Workers

A NIOSH analysis of data from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey found this group of workers has an especially high prevalence of averaging six hours or less of sleep daily.

A report published in the April 27 edition of MMWR shows which industries' workers are getting less sleep than the 7-9 hours per day that the National Sleep Foundation recommends for adults. Topping the list are night shift workers in transportation and warehousing (69.7 percent of them average less sleep than the recommendation) and night shift health care and social assistance workers (52.3 percent), according to the author.

The report was done by Dr. Sara E. Luckhaupt, M.D., of NIOSH's Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies. She notes that overall, 30.6 percent of civilian U.S. adult workers –- about 40.6 million workers total –- reported averaging six hours or less of sleep daily. Manufacturing workers had a significantly higher rate of short sleep duration, 34.1 percent, than workers in other sectors, Luckhaupt reports.

By comparison, her analysis found high rates for mining (41.6 percent), utilities (38.0 percent), and public administration (34.3 percent). Sectors with relatively lower rates included finance and insurance (27.4 percent), education services (27.3 percent), and agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting (26.2 percent).

She notes that the sample response rate was only 60.8 percent; other limitations to the study are that average sleep duration is self-reported and also broad industry categories aggregate workers who probably have substantially different working conditions.

"Because short sleep duration is associated with various adverse health effects (e.g., cardiovascular disease or obesity), decreased workplace and public safety, and impaired job performance, targeted interventions are needed to increase the proportion of adults who get insufficient sleep," Luckhaupt writes.

Her report says NIOSH is developing evidence-based training programs on sleep and working hours that are tailored for managers and workers in manufacturing, mining, nursing, retail, and the trucking industry.

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