Shiftwork, sleep disturbance and the metabolic syndrome among female hospital workers
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Background: Shiftwork is associated with increased sleep disturbance and cardiovascular and metabolic disease risk. This thesis will focus on shiftwork-related sleep disturbance and the potential mediating role of reduced sleep duration in the relationship between a current rotational shiftwork schedule and the metabolic syndrome among female hospital employees. Objectives: 1) To describe sleep patterns in relation to different shiftwork exposure metrics (current status, cumulative exposure, number of consecutive night shifts); 2) To assess the association between shiftwork metrics and sleep duration; 3) To determine whether sleep duration on work shifts mediates the relationship between a current rotational shiftwork pattern and the metabolic syndrome; and 4) To assess whether cumulative shiftwork exposure and the number of consecutive night shifts are associated with the metabolic syndrome. Methods: 294 female hospital employees (142 rotating shiftworkers, 152 dayworkers) participated in a cross-sectional study. Shiftwork parameters were determined through self-report. Sleep was measured for one week with the ActiGraph GT3X+, a tri-axial accelerometer. The metabolic syndrome was defined according to the Joint Interim Studies Consensus Statement. Sleep was described by shiftwork exposure parameters, and multivariable linear regression was used to determine associations between shiftwork variables and sleep duration. Regression path analysis was used to assess whether sleep duration was a mediator between a current shiftwork schedule and the metabolic syndrome, and the significance of the indirect (mediating) effect was tested with bootstrap confidence intervals. Logistic regression was used to determine associations between cumulative shiftwork exposure, number of consecutive night shifts, and the metabolic syndrome. Results: Current shiftworkers slept less on work shifts, more on free days, and were more likely to nap compared to dayworkers. Sleep duration on work shifts was a strong intermediate in the relationship between a current shiftwork pattern and the metabolic syndrome. Cumulative shiftwork exposure and the number of consecutive night shifts did not affect sleep or the metabolic syndrome. Conclusions: A current shiftwork pattern disrupts sleep, and reduced sleep duration is an important intermediate between shiftwork and the metabolic syndrome among female hospital employees.