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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2006 Jul;31(7):1526-36. Epub 2005 Dec 14.

Modafinil attenuates disruptions in cognitive performance during simulated night-shift work.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Division on Substance Abuse, New York State Psychiatric Institute, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Common complaints among shift workers are sleep disruptions and increased sleepiness while working, which may contribute to shift workers being more susceptible to diminished performance and work-related accidents. The purpose of this double-blind, within-participant study was to examine the effects of the alerting agent modafinil on cognitive/psychomotor performance, mood, and measures of sleep during simulated shift work. In all, 11 participants completed this 23-day residential laboratory study. They received a single oral modafinil dose (0, 200, 400 mg) 1 h after waking for three consecutive days under two shift conditions: day shift and night shift. Shifts alternated three times during the study, and shift conditions were separated by an 'off' day. When participants received placebo, cognitive performance and subjective ratings of mood were disrupted during the night shift, relative to the day shift. Objective and subjective measures of sleep were also disrupted, but to a lesser extent. Modafinil reversed disruptions in cognitive performance and mood during the night shift. While modafinil produced few effects on sleep measures during the night shift, the largest dose produced several sleep alterations during the day shift. These data demonstrate that abrupt shift changes produced cognitive performance impairments and mood disruptions during night shift work. Therapeutic doses of modafinil attenuated night-shift-associated disruptions, but the larger dose produced some sleep impairments when administered during day-shift work.

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