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Hormonal changes in satisfied and dissatisfied shift workers across a shift cycle

repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) with 1 between-group and 1 within-group measurements.

Results

The investigators found that:

  • Dissatisfied shift workers had lower morning testosterone levels than satisfied ones, but the two groups did not significantly differ with respect to levels of cortisol or prolactin.
  • The only significant change across the shift cycle was the lowering of morning levels of cortisol on the last morning shift in the shift cycle.
  • In light of the testosterone results, they hypothesize that the low levels of testosterone may be due to disturbed sleep and/or a high sleep need, which in turn may result in more sleepiness and a greater need for recovery after a work period, and as a consequence, dissatisfaction with the shift schedule.

Conclusions

The results suggest that dissatisfaction with the shift system is related to lower testosterone levels, and that the latter are related to disturbed sleep/wakefulness and an increased need for sleep and recovery. In addition, working an entire shift cycle was related to a decrease of morning cortisol, which may relate to an adaptation to long-term stress.

Low testosterone levels and disturbed sleep might be key factors for developing shift intolerance, mainly by reducing the capacity to recover from shift work. Studies using larger sampling procedures are necessary to shed further light on the mechanisms involved in intolerance to shift work.


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Contact: Donna Krupa
djkrupa1@aol.com
703-527-7357
American Physiological Society
23-Sep-2003


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