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Study shows how shift workers can improve job performance and implement a realistic sleep schedule
Date:12/1/2008

at most real shift workers want to be awake on their days off, and so would be unwilling to adopt such a schedule because of the social constraints that are associated with it," said Smith.

Twenty-four healthy subjects were included in the study with seven women and five men in both the experimental and control groups. All subjects were young, but the experimental group was significantly older than the control group (average age of 28.9 years versus 23.7 years). Subjects did not work night shifts in the three months preceding the study and did not travel across more than three time zones in the month preceding the study.

Subjects underwent a total of seven simulated night shifts from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. with two days off. Experimental subjects slept in dark bedrooms at scheduled times: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. after the first two night shifts, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. after the third night shifts, from 3 a.m. to 12 p.m. on the two weekend days off, and again from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. after the final four night shifts. They also were exposed to five, 15-minute, intermittent bright light pulses each night shift; wore dark sunglasses when outside; and received outdoor afternoon light exposure. Control subjects remained in normal room light during night shifts, wore lightly tinted sunglasses when outside, and had unrestricted sleep and outdoor light exposure. Measurements of performance were assessed with the Automated Neurophysioloical Assessment Metrics (ANAM) test battery on desktop computers. The ANAM battery included simple reaction time, procedural memory, code substitution, mathematical processing and matching simple tasks.

Subjects in the experimental group achieved a dim light melatonin onset (DLMO) time of 4:30 a.m., which was close to the target compromise phase position and significantly later than the control group's DLMO time of 12:30 a.m. The body temperature minimum (Tmin), an estimate for the sleepiest circadian time,
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Contact: Kelly Wagner
kwagner@aasmnet.org
708-492-0930
American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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