A field survey of 147 engineers (23-49 years) in an electronics manufacturing company was conducted to investigate the effect of working hours on cardiovascular-autonomic nervous functions (urinary catecholamines, heart rate variability and blood pressure). The subjects were divided into 3 groups by age: 23-29 (n=49), 30-39 (n=74) and 40-49 (n=24) year groups. Subjects in each age group were further divided into shorter (SWH) and longer (LWH) working hour subgroups according to the median of weekly working hours. In the 30-39 year group, urinary noradrenaline in the afternoon for LWH was significantly lower than that for SWH and a similar tendency was found in the LF/HF ratio of heart rate variability at rest. Because these two autonomic nervous indices are related to sympathetic nervous activity, the findings suggested that sympathetic nervous activity for LWH was lower than that for SWH in the 30-39 year group. Furthermore, there were significant relationships both between long working hours and short sleeping hours, and between short sleeping hours and high complaint rates of “drowsiness and dullness” in the morning in this age group. Summarizing these results, it appeared that long working hours might lower sympathetic nervous activity due to chronic sleep deprivation.
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health