How Atypical Work Schedules Affect Performance

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Monday, December 10, 2012

workers who lack shift-work disorder. (Drake et al, 2004)

There is some evidence that women who work at night are more likely to have trouble conceiving or to miscarry (Nurminen, 1998), but not all studies find this to be true. (Zhu et al, 2003; Tuntiseranee et al,1998) One study found that women who worked long work hours took longer to become pregnant than those who worked standard hours. (Tuntiseranee, et al, 1998) In men, there doesn’t appear to be a link between reduced fertility and working night or long shifts, although few studies have explored this possibility.

Shift work quality of life and mental health
Shift work can adversely affect workers’ quality of life and family relations. Studies show a 57 percent higher divorce rate, reduced job satisfaction and reduced family and social interactions among shift workers. (Drake, et al, 2004; Bambra, et al, 2008; White and Keith, 1990) One study showed a relationship between parental shift work and poor school performance or behavior in children 5 to 12 years old. (Hsueh and Yoshikawa, 2007) Shift workers who develop shift-work disorder (see below) are also more likely to be depressed. Drake, et al, 2004)

Shift work adversely affects worker productivity, performance, health and quality of life. Shift work also puts others at risk due to workplace or driving accidents.


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  • Axelsson, J., Akerstedt, T., Kecklung, G., et al, 2004. Tolerance to shift work—how does it relate to sleep and wakefulness? International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health , 77:121-129.
  • Ayas, N., Barger, L., Cade, B., et al, 2006. Extended work duration and the risk of self-reported percutaneous injuries in interns, Journal of the American Medical Association , 296:1055-1062.
  • Bambra, C., Whitehead, M., Sowden A., et al, 2008. “A hard day’s night?” The effects of compressed working week interventions on the health and work-life balance of shift workers: a systematic review. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health ,62:764-777.
  • Barger, L.,
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