Refereed review article in scientific journal (A2)

Adapting shift work schedules for sleep quality, sleep duration, and sleepiness in shift workers




List of AuthorsHulsegge Gerben, Coenen Pieter, Gascon Gregg M, Pahwa Manisha, Greiner Birgit, Bohane Ciaran, Wong Imelda S, Liira Juha, Riera Rachel, Pachito Daniela V

PublisherWiley

Publication year2023

JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Journal name in sourceThe Cochrane database of systematic reviews

Journal acronymCochrane Database Syst Rev

Article numberCD010639

Volume number9

Issue number9

ISSN1361-6137

eISSN1469-493X

DOIhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD010639.pub2

URLhttps://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD010639.pub2


Abstract

Background

Shift work is associated with insufficient sleep, which can compromise worker alertness with ultimate effects on occupational health and safety. Adapting shift work schedules may reduce adverse occupational outcomes.

Objectives

To assess the effects of shift schedule adaptation on sleep quality, sleep duration, and sleepiness among shift workers.

Search methods

We searched CENTRAL, PubMed, Embase, and eight other databases on 13 December 2020, and again on 20 April 2022, applying no language restrictions.

Selection criteria

We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and non‐RCTs, including controlled before‐after (CBA) trials, interrupted time series, and cross‐over trials. Eligible trials evaluated any of the following shift schedule components.

• Permanency of shifts
• Regularity of shift changes
• Direction of shift rotation
• Speed of rotation
• Shift duration
• Timing of start of shifts
• Distribution of shift schedule
• Time off between shifts
• Split shifts
• Protected sleep
• Worker participation

We included studies that assessed sleep quality off‐shift, sleep duration off‐shift, or sleepiness during shifts.

Data collection and analysis

Two review authors independently screened the titles and abstracts of the records recovered by the search, read through the full‐text articles of potentially eligible studies, and extracted data. We assessed the risk of bias of included studies using the Cochrane risk of bias tool, with specific additional domains for non‐randomised and cluster‐randomised studies. For all stages, we resolved any disagreements by consulting a third review author. We presented the results by study design and combined clinically homogeneous studies in meta‐analyses using random‐effects models. We assessed the certainty of the evidence with GRADE.

Main results

We included 11 studies with a total of 2125 participants. One study was conducted in a laboratory setting and was not considered for drawing conclusions on intervention effects. The included studies investigated different and often multiple changes to shift schedule, and were heterogeneous with respect to outcome measurement.

Forward versus backward rotation

Three CBA trials (561 participants) investigated the effects of forward rotation versus backward rotation. Only one CBA trial provided sufficient data for the quantitative analysis; it provided very low‐certainty evidence that forward rotation compared with backward rotation did not affect sleep quality measured with the Basic Nordic Sleep Questionnaire (BNSQ; mean difference (MD) −0.20 points, 95% confidence interval (CI) −2.28 to 1.89; 62 participants) or sleep duration off‐shift (MD −0.21 hours, 95% CI −3.29 to 2.88; 62 participants). However, there was also very low‐certainty evidence that forward rotation reduced sleepiness during shifts measured with the BNSQ (MD −1.24 points, 95% CI −2.24 to −0.24; 62 participants).

Faster versus slower rotation

Two CBA trials and one non‐randomised cross‐over trial (341 participants) evaluated faster versus slower shift rotation. We were able to meta‐analyse data from two studies. There was low‐certainty evidence of no difference in sleep quality off‐shift (standardised mean difference (SMD) −0.01, 95% CI −0.26 to 0.23) and very low‐certainty evidence that faster shift rotation reduced sleep duration off‐shift (SMD −0.26, 95% CI −0.51 to −0.01; 2 studies, 282 participants). The SMD for sleep duration translated to an MD of 0.38 hours' less sleep per day (95% CI −0.74 to −0.01). One study provided very low‐certainty evidence that faster rotations decreased sleepiness during shifts measured with the BNSQ (MD −1.24 points, 95% CI −2.24 to −0.24; 62 participants).

Limited shift duration (16 hours) versus unlimited shift duration

Two RCTs (760 participants) evaluated 80‐hour workweeks with maximum daily shift duration of 16 hours versus workweeks without any daily shift duration limits. There was low‐certainty evidence that the 16‐hour limit increased sleep duration off‐shift (SMD 0.50, 95% CI 0.21 to 0.78; which translated to an MD of 0.73 hours' more sleep per day, 95% CI 0.30 to 1.13; 2 RCTs, 760 participants) and moderate‐certainty evidence that the 16‐hour limit reduced sleepiness during shifts, measured with the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale (SMD −0.29, 95% CI −0.44 to −0.14; which translated to an MD of 0.37 fewer points, 95% CI −0.55 to −0.17; 2 RCTs, 716 participants).

Shorter versus longer shifts

One RCT, one CBA trial, and one non‐randomised cross‐over trial (692 participants) evaluated shorter shift duration (eight to 10 hours) versus longer shift duration (two to three hours longer). There was very low‐certainty evidence of no difference in sleep quality (SMD −0.23, 95% CI −0.61 to 0.15; which translated to an MD of 0.13 points lower on a scale of 1 to 5; 2 studies, 111 participants) or sleep duration off‐shift (SMD 0.18, 95% CI −0.17 to 0.54; which translated to an MD of 0.26 hours' less sleep per day; 2 studies, 121 participants). The RCT and the non‐randomised cross‐over study found that shorter shifts reduced sleepiness during shifts, while the CBA study found no effect on sleepiness.

More compressed versus more spread out shift schedules

One RCT and one CBA trial (346 participants) evaluated more compressed versus more spread out shift schedules. The CBA trial provided very low‐certainty evidence of no difference between the groups in sleep quality off‐shift (MD 0.31 points, 95% CI −0.53 to 1.15) and sleep duration off‐shift (MD 0.52 hours, 95% CI −0.52 to 1.56).

Authors' conclusions

Forward and faster rotation may reduce sleepiness during shifts, and may make no difference to sleep quality, but the evidence is very uncertain. Very low‐certainty evidence indicated that sleep duration off‐shift decreases with faster rotation. Low‐certainty evidence indicated that on‐duty workweeks with shift duration limited to 16 hours increases sleep duration, with moderate‐certainty evidence for minimal reductions in sleepiness. Changes in shift duration and compression of workweeks had no effect on sleep or sleepiness, but the evidence was of very low‐certainty. No evidence is available for other shift schedule changes. There is a need for more high‐quality studies (preferably RCTs) for all shift schedule interventions to draw conclusions on the effects of shift schedule adaptations on sleep and sleepiness in shift workers.


Last updated on 2023-03-10 at 14:38