Sleep and Biological Rhythms

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 3–10 | Cite as

The association between shift work-related sleep complaints and shift work intolerance

  • Hyuk Joo Lee
  • Kyung-Lak Son
  • Young Rong Bang
  • Hong Joon Jeon
  • Kiheon Lee
  • In-Young YoonEmail author
Original Article


Previous studies have revealed the negative consequences of shift work in some individuals, with others better tolerating shift work. The present study investigated clinical implications of shift work-related sleep complaints as a manifestation of shift-work intolerance. Responses were obtained from 923 shift workers and 850 non-shift workers at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital in Seongnam, Korea. The self-reported questionnaires were administered to assess demographic and clinical factors of the participants. Shift work-related sleep complaints were defined as complaints of insomnia or excessive sleepiness related to shift work schedule. Shift workers with sleep complaints suffered from more severe fatigue, depression, anxiety and impaired quality of life compared with both non-shift workers and shift workers without sleep complaints (all p < 0.05). However, we found no substantial difference in clinical symptoms between non-shift workers and shift workers without sleep complaints. The associated factors of shift work-related sleep complaints were frequent night shifts (OR = 1.09, 95% CI = 1.02–1.15), evening chronotype (OR = 0.97, 95% CI = 0.95–0.99) and resilience (OR = 0.98, 95% CI = 0.97–0.99). Shift workers with sleep complaints can suffer from more severe adverse effects of shift work compared to non-shift workers and shift workers without sleep problems. This study suggests that shift-work-related sleep complaints might be a manifestation of shift work intolerance. Therefore, physicians need to recognize and modify the associated factors with sleep complaints alleviating shift work-related health burden.


Chronotype Quality of life Resilience Shift work Sleep complaints 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Hyuk Joo Lee, Kyunglak Son, Young Rong Bang, Hong Joon Jeon, Kiheon Lee, and In-Young Yoon declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This study was approved by the institutional review board of Seoul National University Bundang Hospital.

Ethical standards

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional review board of Seoul National University Bundang Hospital and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Japanese Society of Sleep Research 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hyuk Joo Lee
    • 1
  • Kyung-Lak Son
    • 1
  • Young Rong Bang
    • 2
  • Hong Joon Jeon
    • 3
  • Kiheon Lee
    • 4
  • In-Young Yoon
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatrySeoul National University Bundang HospitalSeongnamSouth Korea
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryDong-A University HospitalBusanSouth Korea
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryKonkuk University Medical CenterSeoulSouth Korea
  4. 4.Department of Family MedicineSeoul National University College of Medicine and Seoul National University Bundang HospitalSeongnamSouth Korea
  5. 5.Department of PsychiatrySeoul National University College of MedicineSeoulKorea

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