People who work rotating shifts during the night and early morning have significantly lower levels of the hormone and neurotransmitter serotonin, according to a study of 683 men.
Serotonin plays an important role in the regulation of sleep, and low levels have been linked to:
- Sleep problems
In the study, men who worked hours when the body typically expects to be sleeping (shifts starting at 6 p.m.) had notably lower levels of serotonin than those working shifts during the day (starting at 6 a.m.).
Anywhere from 2 percent to 5 percent of the U.S. population is thought to have sleep problems related to shift work. Shift work sleep disorder is a circadian rhythm sleep disorder that is caused by a work schedule that takes place during the normal sleep period, thereby confusing your body’s internal clock.
The disorder can result in trouble sleeping, severe fatigue, poor sleep quality, and not feeling refreshed upon waking. The ensuing fatigue can affect work performance and alertness, and may also increase your risk of getting injured at work.
Rotating shift workers typically sleep one to four hours less than average, and often feel fatigued when they’re awake.
Sleep August 1, 2007
Science Daily August 1, 2007