Change from an 8-hour shift to a 12-hour shift, attitudes, sleep, sleepiness and performance.Scand J Work Environ Health. 1998; 24 Suppl 3:69-75.SJ
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.
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.
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).
The change from 8-hour to 12-hour shifts was positive in most respects, possibly due to the shorter sequences of the workdays, the longer sequences of consecutive days off, the fewer types of shifts (easier planning), and the elimination of quick changes. The results may differ in groups with a higher work load.