Age and the subjective experience of shiftwork.J Hum Ergol (Tokyo). 2001 Dec; 30(1-2):307-13.JH
The objective of this study was to examine age related effects of shiftwork albeit difficult to tease apart the natural effects of aging, and lifestyle or behaviour, or job done, over time and the shifts a person works. This is an issue of concern because the numbers of shiftworkers over 45 are increasing. Participants were 306 police officers who had worked a new rota for approximately 6 months. Three age groups were compared (1 = 20-32.9, 2 = 33-39.9, 3 = 40+) using a range of shiftwork-related measures and multivariate analysis of covariance (controlling for shiftwork experience and other individual differences). Younger officers tended to report significantly better attitudes towards their shiftwork, better adjustment to night-bound shifts, greater job satisfaction and organisational commitment, lower fatigue and longer sleep durations. Older shiftworkers reported significantly higher morningness and lower sleep need than the younger officers. This concurred with existing research that implicates such variables in the mechanism(s) involved in age-related tolerance to shiftwork. It was also evident that the older group tended to resort to greater caffeine intake on all shifts. The findings offer tentative support for the position that age can be linked to depleted shiftwork tolerance but the issue of establishing the relative impacts of aging, lifestyle, behaviour, work type and the rota worked remains to be a challenge.