Will night shift workers ratings of well-being and fatigue and performance on prospective memory and sustained vigilance tasks recover after three nights rest? : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Psychology at Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand

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Massey University
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As the demand for a 24-hour world increases so does the need for more shift workers. To maintain the standard expected of them, shift workers often work long hours, including night work where their main opportunity for sleep is during the day. Research has found that shift workers experience fatigue, difficulties in cognition and impaired wellbeing after working shifts like these. Despite this, minimal research has been conducted to explore how many days of recovery should be rostered after one night shift. This study aimed to find evidence to guide workplaces on how many days of rest employees should be rostered to recuperate from one night of sleep loss. A sample of 39 night shift (n=22) and day shift workers (n=17) completed a five day experiment from pre-night shift to rest day three (or five consecutive days for controls) and were assessed in tasks of prospective memory, sustained vigilance, self-reported fatigue levels and self-reported affect to measure well-being. The results indicated that while there was no significant change in vigilant attention or prospective remembering across the five days that self-reported fatigue and positive affect experienced significant changes. These findings indicate that night shift workers may need two to three days of rest to recover from some of the effects from a night of sleep deprivation. However this study repeated with a larger sample size and stricter conditions could yield different results.
fatigue, sleep deprivation, shift work, prospective memory, wellbeing