Work schedule and self-reported hypertension - the potential beneficial role of on-shift naps for night workers

Lúcia Rotenberg, Aline Silva-Costa, Paulo Roberto Vasconcellos-Silva, Rosane Härter Griep
Chronobiology International 2016, 33 (6): 697-705
Data on the association between shift work and hypertension are controversial. Sleep restriction is hypothesized to be involved in this relationship. Since on-shift nap can partly compensate for sleep deprivation among night workers, this investigation is aimed at (i) comparing the prevalence of hypertension among workers considering both current and former night work, (ii) testing the association between on-shift naps and hypertension among night workers, and (iii) analyzing the influence of sleep complaints in the association between on-shift nap and hypertension. Nap was defined as a sleep episode with duration shorter than the average nighttime sleep. A cross-sectional study was performed at the 18 largest public hospitals in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2010-2011 (N = 2588 female registered nurses). Nurses were informally allowed to nap for up to three consecutive hours during working nights. Workers completed a multidimensional questionnaire including self-reported information on physician diagnosis of hypertension, napping, and sleep complaints (insomnia, diurnal sleepiness, and non-satisfactory sleep). Epidemiological and statistical treatment of data included binomial logistic regression and interaction tests. Higher chances of hypertension were observed for both current and former night workers compared with workers with no previous experience in night work, i.e. exclusive day workers (OR = 1.68; CI95% 1.22-2.33 and OR = 1.40; CI95% 1.01-1.96, respectively) after adjustment for age, race/ethnicity, physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption, insomnia, weekly work hours, and BMI. Compared with exclusive day workers, both non-nappers and nappers were at a higher likelihood of reporting hypertension (OR = 1.93 CI95% 1.35-2.79 and OR = 1.41 CI95% 1.08-2.20, respectively). An interaction was observed between napping behavior and insomnia (p = 0.037). In the whole sample of night workers, the lower OR for nappers was confirmed when they were directly compared with non-nappers (OR = 0.76 CI95% 0.59-0.98). Analysis of night workers stratified by insomnia showed a significant reduction in OR for nappers (compared to non-nappers) only among insomniacs (OR = 0.58). Napping during night work may be a protective factor for hypertension, particularly among insomniacs. Factors related to melatonin secretion, blood pressure control, and blood pressure dipping patterns are likely to be involved in the relationship between on-shift napping and blood pressure.

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