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Personality factors predict sleep-related shift work tolerance

In a new study Sunniva Storemark takes a closer look at different personality factors that may affect the ability to tolerate shift-work.

Personality factors predict sleep-related shift work tolerance in different shifts at 2-year follow-up: a prospective study. Storemark SS, Fossum IN, Bjorvatn B, Moen BE, Flo E, Pallesen S.

BMJ Open. 2013 Nov 4;3(11):e003696. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003696.

 

 

Together with colleagues from the Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, and Department of Psychosocial Science, Sunniva S. Storemark investigate the implication of personality factors on shift work tolerance by asking nurses from different health care institutions in Norway.

Using a prospective study design, the aim of this study was to investigate whether the personality variables morningness, flexibility, languidity and hardiness could predict sleep-related shift work tolerance for the day, evening and night shifts, respectively. The Bergen Shift Work Sleep Questionnaire (BSWQR) was constructed to assess shift-related sleep-wake disturbances separately for the different shift. The survey sample was based on 5400 nurses, were 2048 (wave 1) completed and returned the questionnaire,  2 years later, 1533 from wave 1 responded.  Morningness refers to individuals’ diurnal preferences, flexibility their ability to sleep and work at odd times, languidity the difficulties with overcoming drowsiness and hardiness is regarded as a general resilience factor concerning coping with stress and illness.

 

Four hypotheses and results

The aim was to investigate four hypotheses: 1) Morningness is positively associated with sleep-related day shift tolerance, while it is negatively associated with sleep-related shift work tolerance for the evening and night shifts. 2) Languidity is negatively associated with sleep-related shift work tolerance for all three shift types. 3) Flexibility is positively associated with sleep-related shift work tolerance for all three shift types. 4) Hardiness is positively associated with sleep-related shift work tolerance for all three shift types.

The study showed that morningness was positively associated with sleep-related shift-tolerance, thus confirming the first part of hypothesis 1, but there were no significant findings regarding the second part.  The second hypothesis was confirmed by the results, and the third was confirmed in regards to the evening and night shifts, but no association was found between flexibility and day-shifts. As for the last hypothesis, hardiness was confirmed to be positively associated with sleep-related shift work tolerance among all three shifts.

Implications and further research

This is the very first study to investigate whether personality variables predict sleep-related shift work tolerance separately for different shifts, and the present study supports the notion that personality variables over time can predict sleep-related shift work tolerance. Future studies should continue to measure sleep-related shift tolerance specifically related to different shifts, as this knowledge may have practical implications for recruitment and adjustment for the employees, which in turn could cause less complications related to sleep and less negative health consequences.

Read the whole article in BMJ here