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Sleep, Circadian Rhythms, And Cardiometabolic Risk In Retired Shift Workers

R01 AG047139 (PI: Buysse/Hall)

Sleep and circadian rhythms are increasingly recognized as important determinants of health and functioning. Poor sleep health and misaligned circadian rhythms increase the risk of adverse health outcomes such as depression, cognitive impairment, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even mortality. However, we know very little about how sleep and circadian disruption lead to health risks later in life. We will study retired night shift workers (RNSW) and retired day workers (RDW) >60 years of age as a model to understand the effects of repeated sleep and circadian disruption on sleep, circadian, and cardiometabolic health in later life. Approximately 15% of the US population are retired shiftworkers. In previous studies we have shown that, compared to RDW, RNSW have worse subjective sleep quality; worse polysomnographic sleep; evidence of circadian rhythm abnormalities; and increased rates of diabetes and obesity. Additional new preliminary data with an independent sample suggest that, compared to day workers, older shift workers also have worse outcomes on cardiometabolic risk factors including endothelial dysfunction, poor glucose control, and increased prevalence of the metabolic syndrome. The study will advance these preliminary findings in several important ways: First, we will measure not only PSG sleep, but also the homeostatic regulation of sleep following sleep deprivation; second, we will characterize circadian phase, amplitude, and phase angles using a constant routine laboratory protocol; third, we will use a multi-dimensional approach to assess intermediate markers of cardiometabolic health including metabolic syndrome, brachial artery flow- mediated dilation, and carotid intima-media thickness. This study is significant because of the prevalence and known health consequences of shift work, coupled with an aging population.  This study will impact our understanding of the health consequences of shift work, which may point to future intervention and rehabilitation strategies.

Interested in learning more about the study? Fill out this form or contact Sarah Kimutis or 412-246-6443.