The researchers found that night shift workers classified as alert insomniacs had the highest level of impairment in work productivity and cognitive function, which was significantly worse than controls.
"Our findings are important to everyone who is dealing with night shift work," said principal investigator Valentina Gumenyuk from Meadowlands Hospital in Secaucus, New Jersey. "Our study reaffirms that insomnia within shift work disorder demands clinical attention, and it suggests that treatments focusing on the relief of excessive sleepiness in shift work disorder may not sufficiently improve work-related outcomes."
The final analysis involved 34 permanent night workers, 26 of whom were diagnosed with shift work disorder. The researchers conducted an overnight lab protocol in which participants stayed awake for 25 hours in a dimly lit, private room. Participants wore an EEG cap to measure brain activity associated with attention and memory, and an event-related brain potential task assessed functional abilities.
According to the authors, the impairments found in night shift workers, who were alert insomniacs have practical and serious consequences for workplace safety and occupational health.
The results appeared in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
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