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Chronobiol Int. 2008 Apr;25(2):413-23. doi: 10.1080/07420520802106769.

Effects of 6/6 and 4/8 watch systems on sleepiness among bridge officers.

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  • 1Centre of Expertise on Human Factors at Work, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland. mikko.harma@ttl.fi


During the last ten years, severe sleepiness or falling asleep by watch keeping officers has been a direct or a contributing factor in a number of maritime accidents. This study examined the relationship between two watch systems and its impact on fatigue and sleepiness in bridge officers. A questionnaire and a sleep/work diary were sent to a representative sample of the Finnish Maritime Officer Association. In all, 185 bridge officers answered the questionnaire on sleep, work hours, and safety, including the Skogby Excessive Daytime Sleepiness index (SEDS); 42% of the bridge officers worked two 4 h watches (4/8) per day, while 26% worked two 6 h watches per day (6/6). Ninety-five of the participants completed a sleep diary for seven consecutive days while at sea. The timing of the watch duties and sleep was recorded, as was subjective sleepiness every 2 h using the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale (KSS). 17.6% of the participants had fallen asleep at least once while on duty during their career. Compared to the 4/8 watch system, the officers working the 6/6 watch system reported shorter sleep durations, more frequent nodding-off on duty (7.3% vs. 1.5%), and excessive sleepiness (32% vs. 16% with SEDS>14). Based on a logistic regression analysis, high SEDS was significantly related with probable obstructive sleep apnea (OR 5.7), the 6/6 watch system (OR 4.0), and morningness-eveningness while controlling simultaneously several individual and sleep-related factors. Subjective sleepiness (KSS) was highest at 04:00 and 06:00 h. In a multivariate analysis, the KSS was significantly related to time of day, time after awaking, sleep length, and interactions of the watch systems with age, morningness-eveningness, and Epworth sleepiness scale (ESS) score. Severe sleepiness at 04:00-06:00 h was especially problematic in the 6/6 watch system among evening types and among the bridge officers with high ESS. The results suggest the 6/6 watch system is related to a higher risk of severe sleepiness during the early morning hours compared to the 4/8 and the other watch systems assessed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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