National Shift Worker Survey Fact Sheet

July 27, 2011

Men's Health Network and Cephalon Inc. conducted a national survey to assess the physical and emotional toll of working night shifts and other non-traditional hours. Key findings from the survey are detailed in this fact sheet.

The survey revealed that the vast majority (79%) of people with non-traditional work hours believe that they are negatively impacted by their shift work and report issues from negative emotions to concern about sex life and decreased time spent with family to issues associated with work productivity.

Survey respondents report daily concern for their energy level (47%), weight (43%), ability to get enough sleep (39%), their mood (32%) their health (32%) and their sex lives (30%).

Sixty percent report feeling tired more often than feeling rested when they are supposed to be awake.

Fifteen percent report dozing while driving at least once in the last 30 days.

The average shift worker has not exercised in 24 days, read a newspaper the day it came out in 30 days or had sex in 54 days.

Nearly two–thirds of those surveyed (62%) would sacrifice something to feel well-rested all the time, such as half their wardrobe (33%) or their next three vacations (15%).

More than half surveyed reported feeling frustrated (51%) and drained (51%) in the past week, with many others reporting irritability (42%), anxiety (36%), anger (32%) and depression (31%).

It's not just men who are impacted by shift work; in fact, more women than men who work non-traditional shifts are dissatisfied with their sleep schedules and report negative emotions.

Most shift workers feel behind both in keeping up with their daily responsibilities (55%) and in planning for the future (67%).

Three in 10 surveyed (29%) said that they have dozed off at work in the past month, most of them multiple times, with another 37% saying they've come close.

One in three shift workers have missed work altogether at least once in the past year because they were too tired to go.

Nearly a quarter (24%) report making mistakes on the job at least once in the last month because they felt sleepy.

Nearly half (45%) say that when they're tired on the job, they worry more about their job security than their own safety.

52% of shift workers who want a change in job or hours, most don't think it will be possible in the near future and 44% feel that they will have the same job until they retire.

Top work concerns for shift workers include hours/schedule (34%), options if they lose their job (32%), job stability (28%) and how to look for a new job (25%).

Many shift workers report daily concerns about their romantic relationships (28%), the state of their friendships or social life (22%) and the state of their family relationships (18%).

The average shift worker hasn't eaten a meal with their family in two weeks.

More than half (55%) report missing a major life event over the last year because they were too tired.

Most shift workers (60%) report being invited to social events such as birthday parties and weddings less often than others.

A great majority of respondents (72%) seem to think that being tired on the job is "just a part of life" and do not consider speaking with their physician about their symptoms.

In general, most people surveyed (67%) prefer to handle basic health problems without the assistance of a doctor, and over half (51%) have never visited a doctor about being tired.

The majority of shift workers surveyed (61%) said that they would sooner check in with a doctor about a cold or flu than if they were tired for three months or longer.

More than half (52%) would only consult a doctor about being tired if it made them physically ill – far more than those who would take similar action if it took a toll on their lives in any other ways.

One potential health impact of working non-traditional shift is shift work disorder, which affects up to 25% of night or rotating shift workers and has potential consequences including decreased productivity and trouble focusing, an increased susceptibility to intestinal and heart diseases

Shift work disorder is a recognized and treatable medical condition that occurs when an individual's internal sleep-wake clock is out of sync with their work schedule. Because of this disruption in the body's natural rhythm, people with shift work disorder may struggle to stay awake during their working hours, known as excessive sleepiness, or have trouble sleeping during their sleeping hours, known as insomnia.

It is important that people experiencing excessive sleepiness and/or insomnia take the time to see a doctor and mention that they work nontraditional shifts, as shift work disorder can often go undiagnosed. To learn more about shift work disorder, visit

About The Survey
The survey was conducted by Kelton Research and Cephalon as part of a disease awareness program called The Wake-Up Squad. The survey was fielded online and was completed by 1,565 shift workers between May 25th and June 1st, 2011. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results.