The effects of age and shiftwork on perceived sleep problems: results from the VISAT combined longitudinal and cross-sectional study

J Occup Environ Med. 2011 Jul;53(7):794-8. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e318221c64c.


Objective: With workforces in industrialized countries getting older, the study examined how shiftworking affects sleep in later life.

Method: Longitudinal data were collected in 1996, 2001, and 2006 from a large sample of employees who were 32, 42, 52, and 62 years old in 1996.

Results: Effects of shiftwork were most apparent in middle-aged participants, becoming less apparent in later years when people tended to leave shiftwork. Nevertheless, a group of younger former shiftworkers reported more sleep problems than those who had never worked shifts. Giving up shiftwork offset a trend for sleep problems to accumulate over time, with the net result of no change in sleep problems after cessation of shiftwork.

Conclusions: Poor sleep quality is a temporary consequence of shiftwork for some, whereas for others it is a cause of shiftwork intolerance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Sleep Disorders, Circadian Rhythm / epidemiology*
  • Work Schedule Tolerance*