Sleep Habits, Alertness, Cortisol Levels, and Cardiac Autonomic Activity in Short-Distance Bus Drivers: Differences Between Morning and Afternoon Shifts

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Abstract

Objective:

To evaluate sleep, alertness, salivary cortisol levels, and autonomic activity in the afternoon and morning shifts of a sample of short-distance bus drivers.

Methods:

A sample of 47 bus drivers was evaluated. Data regarding subjects and working characteristics, alertness (psychomotor vigilance task), sleep habits (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, Epworth Sleepiness Scale, Actigraphy), endocrine stress response (salivary cortisol), and autonomic activity (heart-rate variability) were collected.

Results:

Sleep restriction was highly prevalent. Drivers in the morning shift slept 1 hour less than those in the afternoon shift, showed lower reaction time performance, a flattening of cortisol morning-evening difference, and higher overweight prevalence.

Conclusions:

The differences found between morning and afternoon shifts point out to the need of the implementation of educational strategies to compensate the sleep loss associated with an early workschedule.

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