Study objectives: The current study used the meta-analytic technique to quantitatively assess the effects of permanent and rotating shift-work schedules on sleep length.
Design: A meta-analysis was completed on 36 primary studies resulting in 165 effect sizes. Effect sizes comparing shift-workers to a permanent day shift control group were calculated for permanent evening shifts, permanent night shifts, and morning, evening, and night shifts worked as part of slowly and rapidly rotating shift systems.
Setting: NA PATIENTS OR PARTICIPANTS: NA INTERVENTIONS: NA RESULTS: Permanent night shifts resulted in a decrease, whereas permanent evening shifts resulted in an increase in sleep length. The shifts within rotating schedules followed the same pattern, with the addition of morning shifts having a moderate detrimental effect on sleep length. Furthermore, the speed of shift rotation had an impact. Slowly rotating shifts, in general, had the least detrimental effect on sleep length of the permanent and rotating shift-work schedules studied here. The pattern of effects among morning, evening, and night shifts was the same for rapidly and slowly rotating shifts, with night shifts having the greatest detrimental effect, morning shifts having a moderate detrimental effect and evening shifts having a positive effect on sleep length. In addition, nights on rotating shifts had a greater negative effect on sleep length than permanent night shifts.
Conclusions: Slowly rotating shifts have the least negative impact on sleep length of shift-work schedules including a night shift. However, permanent night shifts could be an alternative shift-work schedule in operational settings that require many workers at night.