Sleep complaints and polysomnographic findings: A study of nuclear power plant shift workers


The literature widely recognizes that shift workers have more health complaints than the general population. The objective of this study was to describe the prevalence of sleep complaints and verify the polysomnographic (PSG) variables of shift workers in two Brazilian nuclear power plants. We carried out a subjective evaluation with a sleep questionnaire. Based on these results, the interviewees that reported sleep-related complaints were referred for polysomnographic evaluation. of the 327 volunteers initially evaluated by the sleep questionnaire, 113 (35%) reported sleep complaints; they were significantly older, had higher body mass index (BMI), and worked more years on shifts than those without sleep complaints. of these 113, 90 met criteria for various sleep disorders: 30 (9%) showed obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), 18 (5.5%) showed limb movement, and 42 (13%) evidenced both sleep problems and had a significantly higher proportion of sleep stage 1 and arousals compared with the 23 shift workers that had no indices of sleep problems. The present study found that 90 (27.5%) of the evaluated participants met the PSG criteria of some type of clinical sleep disorder. This high proportion should be investigated for associations with other aspects of work, such as working hours, working schedule, years performing shift work, and access to health services. Due to the strong association between sleep disorders and the incidence of fatigue and sleepiness, the evaluation of the sleep patterns and complaints of shift workers is essential and should be considered to be one of the basic strategies of industry to prevent accidents.



sleep complaints, sleep disorders, shift work, polysomnography, nuclear power plant

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Chronobiology International. Philadelphia: Taylor & Francis Inc, v. 25, n. 2-3, p. 321-331, 2008.