Background: Shift work disorder involves insomnia and/or excessive sleepiness associated with the work schedule. The present study examined the impact of insomnia on the perceived physical and psychological health of adults working on night and rotating shift schedules compared to day workers.
Methods: A total of 418 adults (51% women, mean age 41.4 years), including 51 night workers, 158 rotating shift workers, and 209 day workers were selected from an epidemiological study. An algorithm was used to classify each participant of the two groups (working night or rotating shifts) according to the presence or absence of insomnia symptoms. Each of these individuals was paired with a day worker according to gender, age, and income. Participants completed several questionnaires measuring sleep, health, and psychological variables.
Results: Night and rotating shift workers with insomnia presented a sleep profile similar to that of day workers with insomnia. Sleep time was more strongly related to insomnia than to shift work per se. Participants with insomnia in the three groups complained of anxiety, depression, and fatigue, and reported consuming equal amounts of sleep-aid medication. Insomnia also contributed to chronic pain and otorhinolaryngology problems, especially among rotating shift workers. Work productivity and absenteeism were more strongly related to insomnia.
Conclusion: The present study highlights insomnia as an important component of the sleep difficulties experienced by shift workers. Insomnia may exacerbate certain physical and mental health problems of shift workers, and impair their quality of life.
Keywords: Consequences; Health; Shift work disorder; Sleep difficulties; Work schedule.
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