Throughout the industrialized world, nearly one in five employees works some form of nontraditional shift. Such shift work is associated with numerous negative health consequences, ranging from cognitive complaints to cancer, as well as diminished quality of life. Furthermore, a substantial percentage of shift workers develop shift work disorder, a circadian rhythm sleep disorder characterized by excessive sleepiness, insomnia, or both as a result of shift work. In addition to adverse health consequences and diminished quality of life at the individual level, shift work disorder incurs significant costs to employers through diminished workplace performance and increased accidents and errors. Nonetheless, shift work will remain a vital component of the modern economy. This article reviews seminal and recent literature regarding shift work, with an eye toward real-world application in clinical and organizational settings.
Keywords: fatigue; occupational health; shift work disorder; sleep; workplace.
Copyright © 2016 American College of Chest Physicians. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.