Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1998;24 suppl 3:69-75    pdf

Change from an 8-hour shift to a 12-hour shift, attitudes, sleep, sleepiness and performance

by Lowden A, Kecklund G, Axelsson J, Åkerstedt T

Objectives The present study sought to evaluate the effect of a change from a rotating 3-shift (8-hour) to a 2-shift shift (12 hour) schedule on sleep, sleepiness, performance, perceived health, and well-being.

Methods Thirty-two shift workers at a chemical plant (control room operators) responded to a questionnaire a few months before a change was made in their shift schedule and 10 months after the change. Fourteen workers also filled out a diary, carried activity loggers, and carried out reaction-time tests (beginning and end of shift). Fourteen day workers served as a reference group for the questionnaires and 9 were intensively studied during a week with workdays and a free weekend.

Results The questionnaire data showed that the shift change increased satisfaction with workhours, sleep, and time for social activities. Health, perceived accident risk, and reaction-time performance were not negatively affected. Alertness improved and subjective recovery time after night work decreased. The quick changes in the 8-hour schedule greatly increased sleep problems and fatigue. Sleepiness integrated across the entire shift cycle showed that the shift workers were less alert than the day workers, across workdays and days off (although alertness increased with the 12-hour shift).