Close up image of a caretaker helping older woman walk
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Investigators at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and their Canadian partners reported that cognitive impairment is the same among men and women who work shifts, despite the fact that women typically get less sleep and have more work-related stress.

The findings were published in November’s Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Researchers at NIOSH and the Institute for Work and Health in Toronto found health and age played an important role in cognition directly and through sleep.

The findings also underscore the need for occupational health and safety programs that address cognitive function among all shift workers. They conclude that such programs should focus on stress, health and sleep hygiene to improve quality.

The study used data from 4,255 respondents to Canada’s National Population Health Survey in 2010. The participants’ average age was 43, and slightly more than half were women. 

All participants held jobs, with 75% working regular daytime hours and the remainder working either shift hours, rotating day and night hours, or on-call hours.