Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biological Sciences (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Biological Sciences


Jason Robert Carter


John James Durocher


Nearly 22 million Americans operate as shift workers, and shift work has been linked to the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD). This study is aimed at identifying pivotal risk factors of CVD by assessing 24 hour ambulatory blood pressure, state anxiety levels and sleep patterns in 12 hour fixed shift workers. We hypothesized that night shift work would negatively affect blood pressure regulation, anxiety levels and sleep patterns. A total of 28 subjects (ages 22-60) were divided into two groups: 12 hour fixed night shift workers (n=15) and 12 hour fixed day shift workers (n=13). 24 hour ambulatory blood pressure measurements (Space Labs 90207) were taken twice: once during a regular work day and once on a non-work day. State anxiety levels were assessed on both test days using the Speilberger’s State Trait Anxiety Inventory. Total sleep time (TST) was determined using self recorded sleep diary. Night shift workers demonstrated increases in 24 hour systolic (122 ± 2 to 126 ± 2 mmHg, P=0.012); diastolic (75 ± 1 to 79 ± 2 mmHg, P=0.001); and mean arterial pressures (90 ± 2 to 94 ± 2mmHg, P<0.001) during work days compared to off days. In contrast, 24 hour blood pressures were similar during work and off days in day shift workers. Night shift workers reported less TST on work days versus off days (345 ± 16 vs. 552 ± 30 min; P<0.001), whereas day shift workers reported similar TST during work and off days (475 ± 16 minutes to 437 ± 20 minutes; P=0.231). State anxiety scores did not differ between the groups or testing days (time*group interaction P=0.248), suggesting increased 24 hour blood pressure during night shift work is related to decreased TST, not short term anxiety. Our findings suggest that fixed night shift work causes disruption of the normal sleep-wake cycle negatively affecting acute blood pressure regulation, which may increase the long-term risk for CVD.

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