Day and night shift schedules are associated with lower sleep quality in Evening-types

Jeanne Sophie Martin, Luc Laberge, Alexandre Sasseville, Marilie Bérubé, Samuel Alain, Jérôme Houle, Marc Hébert
Chronobiology International 2015, 32 (5): 627-36
Eveningness has been suggested as a facilitating factor in adaptation to shift work, with several studies reporting evening chronotypes (E-types) as better sleepers when on night shifts. Conversely, eveningness has been associated with more sleep complaints during day shifts. However, sleep during day shifts has received limited attention in previous studies assessing chronotypes in shift workers. Environmental light exposure has also been reported to differ between chronotypes in day workers. Activity is also known to provide temporal input to the circadian clock. Therefore, the aim of this study was to compare objective sleep, light exposure and activity levels between chronotypes, both during the night and day shifts. Thirty-nine patrol police patrol officers working on a fast rotating shift schedule (mean age ± SD: 28.9 ± 3.2 yrs; 28 males) participated in this study. All subjects completed the Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire (MEQ). Sleep and activity were monitored with actigraphy (Actiwatch-L; Mini-Mitter/Respironics, Bend, OR) for four consecutive night shifts and four consecutive day shifts (night work schedule: 00:00 h-07:00 h; day work schedule: 07:00 h-15:00 h). Sleep and activity parameters were calculated with Actiware software. MEQ scores ranged from 26 to 56; no subject was categorized as Morning-type. E-types (n = 13) showed significantly lower sleep efficiency, longer snooze time and spent more time awake after sleep onset than Intermediate-types (I-types, n = 26) for both the night and day shifts. E-types also exhibited shorter and more numerous sleep bouts. Furthermore, when napping was taken into account, E-types had shorter total sleep duration than I-types during the day shifts. E-types were more active during the first hours of their night shift when compared to I-types. Also, all participants spent more time active and had higher amount of activity per minute during day shifts when compared to night shifts. No difference was found regarding light exposure between chronotypes. In conclusion, sleep parameters revealed poorer sleep quality in E-types for both the night and day shifts. These differences could not be explained by sleep opportunity, light exposure or activity levels. This study challenges the notion that E-types adapt better to night shifts. Further studies must verify whether E-types exhibit lower sleep quality than Morning-types.

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