Sleep and health consequences of shift work in women

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2009 Jul;18(7):965-77. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2007.0742.


Women constitute about half the work force, and women shift workers warrant special attention given the different physiological needs of women, their reproductive status, and the added burden of family responsibilities. There is increasing evidence that women have greater difficulty adjusting to shift work compared to their male counterparts and that sleep problems may in large part account for this difficulty. The purpose of this article is to review the existing literature to highlight the differential negative impact of shift work on sleep and other health issues in women and as part of a needs assessment to promote research in female shift workers by developing and prioritizing research questions in this field. The literature suggests that women shift workers report poor sleep quality and experience reproductive disturbances, an increased risk of breast cancer, and a greater risk of metabolic and cardiovascular disorders.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Sex Factors
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes*
  • Women's Health
  • Work Schedule Tolerance / psychology*