Shift workers most impaired on first night shift following day shifts

Nov 28, 2007

Researchers at Harvard Medical School affiliate Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have found that the attention of shift workers is most impaired on the first night shift following a string of day shifts. This research appears in the November 28, 2007 edition of the Public Library of Science ONE.

“It is important to identify this first night shift as being most vulnerable to impairment in attention, because critical jobs like medical care, airport baggage screening, law enforcement, and air-traffic control are routinely done at night,” said Nayantara Santhi, a fellow in the Division of Sleep Medicine at BWH and lead author of the paper. “Additionally, traditional methods like exposure to bright light and fixed sleep schedule that reduce attentional impairment during night shift work are not as effective during this first night shift.”

Researchers tested selective attention with visual search tasks in participants in a shift work simulation, which included four day shifts followed by three night shifts. They found that attention during the first night shift was the most impaired, with participants unable to stay focused on tasks. They were spending less time attending to search items and making more errors.

This research was funded by a grant from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

Source: Harvard Medical School

Explore further: The use of canes and other mobility devices is on the rise among older adults

Related Stories

Extreme science in the Arctic

Feb 25, 2015

A research team from Northwestern University was dropped by helicopter in the desolate wilderness of Greenland with four weeks of provisions and the goal of collecting ancient specimens preserved in Arctic lakebeds.

A close call of 0.8 light years

Feb 17, 2015

A group of astronomers from the US, Europe, Chile and South Africa have determined that 70,000 years ago a recently discovered dim star is likely to have passed through the solar system's distant cloud of ...

Who's going to win? The answer could change by the hour

Jan 29, 2015

The outcome of that big sporting event you just can't wait to watch may depend on how the timing of the match aligns (or doesn't) with the internal biological clocks of the athletes on the teams, according ...

TV makers design for streaming video to stay relevant

Jan 06, 2015

Does anyone just watch TV anymore? The dramatic shift toward online and mobile viewing is driving television set makers to design as much for streaming video as for watching broadcast or cable channels.

Recommended for you

Perception of US care for the dying worsens

1 hour ago

Surveys of loved ones who lost elderly relatives show that the perception of the quality of care for the dying in the United States has worsened over the last decade. For all the health care industry has done to try to make ...

Expanded hospice improves care but raises Medicare costs

1 hour ago

A large new study in the New England Journal of Medicine examines the impact of growth in Medicare's hospice benefit among nursing home residents between 2004 and 2009. The researchers documented improvement in ind ...

Ivory Coast bans skin whitening creams

1 hour ago

Ivory Coast has banned skin whitening creams, which are widely used in west Africa, because of fears they cause lasting damage to health, the health ministry said Wednesday.

Age matters in health messages

3 hours ago

Health interventions to increase exercise in older people could be more successful if they differentiated between people aged 65 to 79 years old and those over 80 years old.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.