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Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2010 Aug;83(6):607-15. doi: 10.1007/s00420-010-0547-x. Epub 2010 May 25.

Adaptation rate of 6-sulfatoxymelatonin and cognitive performance in offshore fleet shift workers: a field study.

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SINTEF Technology and Society, Trondheim, Norway.



To determine the total phase delay and adaptation rate of 6-sulfatoxymelatonin (aMT6s) on subjective and objective sleep quality and cognitive performance after 7 days of working night shifts (1800-0600 hours). The subjects studied were offshore fleet workers (N = 7).


Seven days of urine samples were collected to determine the total phase delay and adaptation rate of aMT6s. Subjective and objective sleep quality was registered with sleep diaries and actigraphy on a daily basis. Cognitive performance, as measured by vigilance and reaction time, was measured with the Vienna test system on days 1 and 7. Light exposure was measured in the vessel compartments daily.


The rhythm of aMT6s shifted significantly from 4.78 +/- 0.94 h on day 1 to 8.84 +/- 1.76 h on day 7. Rate of adaptation was 0.84 h per day. Subjective sleep quality showed significant time effects on four variables, but objective sleep quality did not show any significant time effects. Vigilance and reaction time improved significantly from days 1 to 7. Light exposure intensities varied between 3 and 243 lux.


This field study showed that offshore fleet workers are able to adapt to the imposed regimen of 12-h night shifts. The adaptation is slower compared to other branches of the offshore industry, which most likely is due to lower light exposure. Subjective sleep quality improved to some extent, but the results were not conclusive. No significant effects were observed in the objective measures. Cognitive performance improved significantly, which was likely to be caused by the extended working hours on day 1 and an entrainment of the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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