Objectives: We sought to measure melatonin levels and 24-hour light intensity exposure in health care workers over a 7-day period in natural occupational and residential settings.
Methods: Five office workers and 17 nurses working either days or rotating night and day shifts wore a device to record light intensity exposure for one or two 7-day periods, completed a questionnaire, and provided three saliva samples for melatonin.
Results: Rotating shift workers had irregular light exposure patterns and abnormal melatonin levels compared with those working days. In addition to lower-than-normal melatonin levels during sleep periods, rotating shift workers exhibited higher-than-normal melatonin levels on arising and during work. Self-reported years of shift work were correlated with measured melatonin and light.
Conclusions: Rotating shift work is supported as a surrogate for exposure to light-at-night and circadian disruption.