Female nurses working rotating shifts must change their daily routines often, which affects their biological circadian rhythms and could cause sleep disorders and fatigue. The objective of this study was to compare the sleep-wake rhythms, sleep quality, and fatigue of female nurses working rotating shifts and fixed day shifts and to analyze the factors that influence their fatigue. Participants comprised a shift worker group of 101 nurses and a day worker group of 76 nurses. Following the collection of basic information of the nurses and their scores in the various constructs of the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and the Checklist Individual Strength (CIS) questionnaire, each nurse wore an actigraph for seven consecutive days to collect for analysis the sleep-wake rhythm parameter dichotomy index (I < O) and durations of continuous sleep and wake. Multivariable linear regression was then used to determine whether the influence of various variables on fatigue differed between the two groups. Results revealed that the sleep-wake rhythm parameter I < O of the day worker group was significantly higher than that of the shift worker group (t = 5.08, p < .001). The shift worker group exhibited significantly higher PSQI global scores (t = −2.00, p = .047), longer total sleep time (t = 2.07, p = .040), poorer habitual sleep efficiency (t = −3.06, p = .003), and greater use of sleeping medication (t = −2.90, p = .004) than did the day worker group. Multivariable linear regression was performed to analyze the important predictors of the CIS score in the two groups with body mass index, age, work experience, marital status, educational background, department of employment, shift type at the time of recruitment, sleep-wake rhythm parameter I < O, and quality of sleep as independent variables. Results indicated that in the shift worker group, the overall explanatory power (R2) of the multivariable linear regression model was 22.9% (F = 3.01, p = .003), and only the PSQI global score (β = 0.33, p = .003) influenced the CIS score. In the day worker group, the various variables did not influence the CIS score in the multivariable linear regression model. Although the female nurses working rotating shifts spent more time in bed, their sleep-wake rhythms and sleep quality were poorer than those of the day worker group. Furthermore, the sleep quality of female nurses in the shift worker group had a significant impact on their fatigue. In other words, for female nurses who must work rotating shifts, sleep quality determines whether fatigue can be reduced. The shift-working nurses themselves should implement sleep management, such as avoiding disruptions to their sleep-wake rhythm and improving sleep quality, which should be effective strategies to reduce fatigue.
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