Disentangling the effects of insomnia and night work on cardiovascular diseases: a study in nursing professionals

Braz J Med Biol Res. 2015 Feb;48(2):120-7. doi: 10.1590/1414-431X20143965. Epub 2014 Nov 21.


Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are known to be associated with poor sleep quality in general populations, but they have not been consistently associated with specific work schedules. Studies of CVD generally do not simultaneously consider sleep and work schedules, but that approach could help to disentangle their effects. We investigated the association between insomnia and a self-reported physician diagnosis of CVD in day and night workers, considering all sleep episodes during nocturnal and diurnal sleep. A cross-sectional study was conducted in 1307 female nursing professionals from 3 public hospitals, using baseline data from the "Health and Work in Nursing - a Cohort Study." Participants were divided into two groups: i) day workers with no previous experience in night shifts (n=281) and whose data on insomnia were related to nocturnal sleep and ii) those who worked exclusively at night (n=340) and had data on both nocturnal and diurnal sleep episodes, as they often sleep at daytime. Multiple logistic regression analysis was performed. Among day workers, insomnia complaints increased the odds of CVD 2.79-fold (95% CI=1.01-6.71) compared with workers who had no complaints. Among night workers, reports of insomnia during both nocturnal and diurnal sleep increased the odds of reported CVD 3.07-fold (95% CI=1.30-7.24). Workers with insomnia had similar probabilities of reporting CVD regardless of their work schedule, suggesting a relationship to insomnia and not to night work per se. The results also highlighted the importance of including evaluation of all sleep episodes (diurnal plus nocturnal sleep) for night workers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Coronary Disease / etiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / etiology
  • Hospitals, Public*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / etiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / etiology
  • Night Care
  • Nursing Assistants*
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital*
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling
  • Self Report
  • Sleep Disorders, Circadian Rhythm / complications*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / complications*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Young Adult