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.