Industrial Health
Online ISSN : 1880-8026
Print ISSN : 0019-8366
ISSN-L : 0019-8366
Original Articles
The impact of meal timing on performance, sleepiness, gastric upset, and hunger during simulated night shift
Crystal Leigh GRANTJillian DORRIANAlison Maree COATESMaja PAJCINDavid John KENNAWAYGary Allen WITTERTLeonie Kaye HEILBRONNChris DELLA VEDOVACharlotte Cecilia GUPTASiobhan BANKS
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2017 Volume 55 Issue 5 Pages 423-436


This study examined the impact of eating during simulated night shift on performance and subjective complaints. Subjects were randomized to eating at night (n=5; 23.2 ± 5.5 y) or not eating at night (n=5; 26.2 ± 6.4 y). All participants were given one sleep opportunity of 8 h (22:00 h-06:00 h) before transitioning to the night shift protocol. During the four days of simulated night shift participants were awake from 16:00 h-10:00 h with a daytime sleep of 6 h (10:00 h-16:00 h). In the simulated night shift protocol, meals were provided at ≈0700 h, 1900 h and 0130 h (eating at night); or ≈0700 h, 0930 h, 1410 h and 1900 h (not eating at night). Subjects completed sleepiness, hunger and gastric complaint scales, a Digit Symbol Substitution Task and a 10-min Psychomotor Vigilance Task. Increased sleepiness and performance impairment was evident in both conditions at 0400 h (p<0.05). Performance impairment at 0400 h was exacerbated when eating at night. Not eating at night was associated with elevated hunger and a small but significant elevation in stomach upset across the night (p<0.026). Eating at night was associated with elevated bloating on night one, which decreased across the protocol. Restricting food intake may limit performance impairments at night. Dietary recommendations to improve night-shift performance must also consider worker comfort.

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© 2017 by National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health
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