You are using an outdated browser. For a faster, safer browsing experience, upgrade for free today.

Effect of sleep disorders on the efficiency of mental activity and the functional state of surgeons in conditions of daily shifts

ISSN 2223-6775 Ukrainian journal of occupational health Vol.16, No 4, 2020

Effect of sleep disorders on the efficiency of mental activity and the functional state of surgeons in conditions of daily shifts

Bobko N.A., Dovgopola S.P.

SI "Kundiiev Institute of Occupational Health of the NAMS of Ukraine", Kiev, Ukraine

Full article (PDF), RUS

Introduction. Night work is accompanied by a forced shift in sleep to daytime hours, a reduction in its duration and a decrease in quality, which leads to a deterioration in the efficiency of activities, an increase in fatigue and sleepiness at work. In the conditions of daily shifts, surgeons must constantly maintain high performance with high personal responsibility for the health of patients in critical conditions. Their work is classified according to the highest hazard category by the factor of work intensity (Class 3.3).

Purpose of the study was to reveal peculiarities of the effect of sleep disorders on the efficiency of mental activity and the functional state of surgeons in conditions of daily shifts.

Materials and methods of investigations. 34 surgeons aged 24-62 years old (M ± m: 42.41 ± 1.90) were examined using computer testing of psychophysiological functions and subjective assessment of the functional state using questionnaires. Two complaints of sleep disturbances were studied: (1) light sleep and (2) sleep loss due to anxiety.

Among the surveyed, 2 groups of people were identified - complaining (group 1) and not complaining (group 2) of light sleep, and 2 groups - complaining of loss of sleep due to anxiety (group 3) and not complaining (group 4). Mathematical and statistical data processing was conducted using standard software packages at the p <0.05 level.

Results. 59% of those surveyed complained of each type of sleep disorder. At the same time, 38% complained of both types of sleep disorders, 41% complained of one of the types, 21% did not complain. When performing a test for short-term memory, persons complaining of light sleep made 2 times more mistakes than those who did not complain (3.37 ± 0.50 and 1.57 ± 0.37, p <0.008). The minimum time spent on solving a complex test task in the time pressure mode was three times longer in the first persons than in the second ones (482.58 ± 117.41 and 157.67 ± 33.14 ms, p <0.015). The performance of the tests did not differ significantly among the groups of people who complained or did not complain of sleep loss due to anxiety.

More marked tension was revealed in persons complaining of light sleep, compared with those who did not complain (p <0.018); mainly - due to mental stress (p <0.018). More noticeable fatigue was found in persons complaining of loss of sleep compared with those who did not complain (p <0.009), and also - mainly due to mental fatigue at the level of a pronounced tendency (p <0.059).

Conclusion. Sleep disorders of different nature are accompanied by different changes in the efficiency of mental activity and subjective assessment of the state. Light sleep affects the efficiency of mental activity to a greater extent (p <0.01) than sleep loss due to anxiety (p> 0.05). Sensitive sleep can result in deterioration in the quality of realizing a truly cognitive function - short-term memory (p <0.01) and deterioration in the maximum attainable speed of information processing in a time pressure mode (p <0.02).

Sensitive sleep is accompanied by an increase in subjectively felt tension (p <0.02), whereas sleep by loss to anxiety - by an increase in subjectively felt fatigue (p <0.01) already at the beginning of the work. In both cases this is mainly due to a mental component, which can be related to mainly mental character of surgeons’ work, which is assessed according to the highest class of tension (Class 3.3) by the acting Hygienic Classification of Work.

In order to maintain occupational work ability and preventing development of unfavorable functional states in surgeons working in daily shifts, preventive measures are needed, including improving sleep hygiene. Complaints of sleep disorders help to distinguish the most vulnerable group of people among the surveyed, requiring attention and preventive measures first of all.

Key words: sleep disturbance, mental activity, surgeons, cognitive functions, memory, fatigue, questionnaires.


  1. Semyachkina-Glushkovskaya O., Postnov D., Penzel T., Kurths J. (2020), “Sleep as a Novel Biomarker and a Promising Therapeutic Target for Cerebral Small Vessel Disease: A Review Focusing on Alzheimer's Disease and the Blood-Brain Barrier”, Int J Mol Sci. , 21(17), 6293.
  2. McCulloch K., Kandelaars K.J., Roach G. (2005), “Are subjective ratings of fatigue based on actual sleep obtained?”, Shiftwork Int. Newsletter, 22 (2), 106.
  3. Philip P., Sagaspe P., Taillard J. (2003), “Fatigue, sleep restriction, and performance in automobile drivers: a controlled study in a natural environment”, Sleep, 26 (3), 277–280.
  4. M. Ferrara, L. DeGennaro Ferrara M. (2001), “How much sleep do we need?” Sleep Medicine Reviews, 5 (2), 155–179.
  5. Kandror I.S. (1984), “Modes of work and rest of workers of transport professions”, in Fiziologicheskiye printsipy razrabotki rezhimov truda i otdykha / [Physiological principles of development of work and rest regimes], (ed. V.I. Medvedev), 86–112, Nauka, Moscow, Russia.
  6. Саbon P., Bourgeois-Bougrine S., Mollard R. (2000), “Fatigue of short-haul flights aircrews in civil aviation: effects of work schedules”, in Shiftwork in the 21st Century (eds. S. Hornberger, P. Knauth, G. Costa, S. Folkard ), Frankfurt am Main; Berlin; Bern; Bruxelles; New York; Oxford; Wien: Lang, 79–85.
  7. Costa G., Sartori S., Facco P., Apostoli P. (2001), “Health conditions of bus drivers in a 6 year follow up study”, J. Hum. Ergol. (Tokyo), 30 (1-2), 405–410.
  8. Sallinen M., Kecklund G. (2010), “Shift work, sleep, and sleepiness - differences between shift schedules and systems”, Scand. J. Work Environ. Health, 36 (2), 121–133.
  9. Kociuba C., Szabo A., Gunstad J. (2010), “Sleep and cognition in older adults with cardiovascular disease”, J. Cardiovasc. Nurs., 25 (6), 497–502.
  10. Smith L., Marek T., Oginska H., Pokorski J. (2000), “Shiftwork, sleep disturbance and sleepiness”, in Shiftwork 2000. Implications for science, practice and business, Krakow, Jagiellonian University, 45–69.
  11. Axelsson J., Akerstedt T., Kecklund G., Lowden A. (2004), “Tolerance to shift work – how does it relate to sleep and wakefulness?” Int. Arch. Occup. Environ. Health, 77 (2), 121–129.
  12. Akerstedt T., Fredlund P., Gillberg M., Jansson B. (2002), “A prospective study of fatal occupational accidents – relationship to sleeping difficulties and occupational factors”, J. Sleep Res., 11 (1), 69–71.
  13. Rouch I., Wild P., Ansiau D., Marquie J. C. (2005), “Shiftwork experience, age and cognitive performance”, Ergonomics, 48(10),1282–1293.
  14. Derzhavni sanitarni normy ta pravyla, (2014), “Hihiyenichna klasyfikatsiya pratsi za pokaznykamy shkidlyvosti ta nebezpechnosti faktoriv vyrobnychoho seredovyshcha, vazhkosti ta napruzhenosti trudovoho protsesu”, Nakaz Ministerstva okhorony zdorovʺya Ukrayiny No 248 vid 08.04.2014 [State sanitary norms and rules "Hygienic classification of labor on the indicators of harmfulness and danger of factors of the production environment, the severity and intensity of the labor process", Order of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine No 248 dated 08.04.2014. Registered at the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine on May 6, 2014 under No 472 / 25249.
  15. Bobko NA, Tkachenko OA, Chernyuk VI, Hrytsiuk IA, Paevshchyk IO. (2016), “Specificity of the circulatory system in surgeons working on a schedule of daily shifts”, Medyk stolysti, 149 (7-8),10-11.
  16. Makarenko M. V.(2006), Osnovy profesiynoho vidboru viysʹkovykh spetsialistiv ta metody vyvchennya indyvidualʹnikh psykhofiziolohichnykh vidminnostey mizh lyudʹmy [Fundamentals of professional selection of military specialists and methods of studying individual psychophysiological differences between people], Bohomolerts Institute of Physiology, Scientific research center of humanitarian problems of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine.
  17. 17. Voytenko V. P. (1991), Zdorov'ye zdorovykh [Health of healthy people], Zdorov’ya, Kiev, Ukraine.
  18. Schmid D., Erlacher D., Klostermann F., Kredel R., Hossner E.-J. (2020), “Sleep-dependent motor memory consolidation in healthy adults: A meta-analysis”, Neurosci Biobehav Rev., 118, 270-281.
  19. Brownlow J.A., Miller K.E., Gehrman P.R. (2020), “Insomnia and Cognitive Performance”, Sleep Med Clin., 15(1), 71-76.