Relationships between Self-Rating of Recovery from Work and Morning Salivary Cortisol

Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
Journal of Occupational Health (Impact Factor: 1.11). 02/2008; 50(1):24-30. DOI: 10.1539/joh.50.24
Source: PubMed


To date, the understanding of how recovery from work relates to cortisol output is poor. Considering this, the present study set out to investigate the associations between self-ratings of 15 items of rest and recovery and salivary cortisol sampled every second hour across two working days. Data came from 12 female and 13 male white-collar workers and were analyzed by linear regression analyses and repeated measures ANOVA. Poor rest and recovery was associated with high levels of morning cortisol, with the strongest relationships emerging for "rested in the morning", "rested after a weekend", "feel energetic during the working day", "tired during the working day", "sufficient sleep" and "worry about something". Moreover, significant interaction effects emerged between sex and "rested after a weekend" and "worry about something". To conclude, the findings show that self-ratings of rest and recovery are related to cortisol, particularly to morning cortisol, and that self-ratings provide important information on physiological recovery in terms of cortisol output.

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    • "Sleep problems experienced during the offshore working period were assessed with four questions answered on a 4-point Likert scale (never/sometimes/often/every day). Three questions came from the Karolinska Sleep Questionnaire (problems with falling asleep, problems awakening, disturbed/restless sleep)[35]and one from a questionnaire developed by Gustafsson et al[36](problems falling asleep because thoughts of my job keep me awake). The recall period for the questions on fatigue, need for recovery, and sleep problems was adjusted to the duration of the offshore working period. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Recovery from fatigue is important in maintaining night workers' health. This study compared the course of self-reported recovery after 2-week 12-hour schedules consisting of either night shifts or swing shifts (i.e., 7 night shifts followed by 7 day shifts) to such schedules consisting of only day work. Methods Sixty-one male offshore employees - 20 night workers, 16 swing shift workers, and 25 day workers - rated six questions on fatigue (sleep quality, feeling rested, physical and mental fatigue, and energy levels; scale 1-11) for 14 days after an offshore tour. After the two night-work schedules, differences on the 1st day (main effects) and differences during the follow-up (interaction effects) were compared to day work with generalized estimating equations analysis. Results After adjustment for confounders, significant main effects were found for sleep quality for night workers (1.41, 95% confidence interval 1.05-1.89) and swing shift workers (1.42, 95% confidence interval 1.03-1.94) when compared to day workers; their interaction terms were not statistically significant. For the remaining fatigue outcomes, no statistically significant main or interaction effects were found. Conclusion After 2-week 12-hour night and swing shifts, only the course for sleep quality differed from that of day work. Sleep quality was poorer for night and swing shift workers on the 1st day off and remained poorer for the 14-day follow-up. This showed that while working at night had no effect on feeling rested, tiredness, and energy levels, it had a relatively long-lasting effect on sleep quality. © 2015, Occupational Safety and Health Research Institute. Published by Elsevier. All rights reserved.
    Preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Safety and Health at Work
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    • "The internal nonresponses to these questions were between 0.9% (n = 5) and 2.8% (n = 16). The recovery items are not previously validated, but are similar to questions used in previous studies that has found significant associations with cortisol (Gustafsson et al., 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: Work related fatigue has been suggested as a link in the assumed sequence of events between repeated adverse work demands and the development of work related stress, which may be associated with changes in concentrations of cortisol, psychological overload and, in the long run, health problems. Insufficient sleep is a contributing factor to lack of recovery, but previous studies on associations between subjective aspects of sleep and recovery, and cortisol, have been inconclusive. The aim with the present study was to examine possible associations between cortisol measures and (I) self-rated recovery, (II) occupational fatigue and (III) subjective sleep quality the night preceding cortisol sampling. Further, possible gender differences were tested. Salivary cortisol was measured in 581 persons during a working day, at awakening, +30 min and in the evening. Various measures of subjective sleep and recovery were analyzed in relation to cortisol. Few correlations between cortisol and any sleep- or recovery parameters were found. However, some significant associations were found between cortisol and a few measures of more chronic aspects of sleep and recovery. Gender stratified analyses showed somewhat differing associations among men and women. This indicates that possible associations and pathways between lack of recovery/sleepiness and cortisol, and in the long run, unhealth, may not be similar for men and women.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2011 · Psychoneuroendocrinology
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    • "High cortisol levels in the evening are associated with low scores on decision authority (control) (Harris et al., 2007), long term job strain (Rydstedt and Mark, 2008), and chronic pain (McBeth et al., 2007). Disturbance in the cortisol rhythm, especially a blunted response in the morning, high levels in the evening (Sluiter et al., 1998; Kristenson et al., 2004), and high morning cortisol (Gustafsson et al., 2008), may be an indication of insufficient recovery. Data from this study with three different work schedules may give important objective data on the effects of shift work on the biological rhythms, and how the rhythms are reset. "
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    ABSTRACT: The stress hormone cortisol shows a pronounced endogenous diurnal rhythm, which is affected by the sleep/wake cycle, meals and activity. Shift work and especially night work disrupts the sleep/wake cycle and causes a desynchronization of the natural biological rhythms. Therefore, different shift schedules may have different impact on performance at work and health. The purpose was to study if health, reaction time, and the cortisol rhythm were negatively affected when a group of shift workers changed their work schedule from ordinary day-night shift (fixed shift) to "swing shift". METHODS AND SETTINGS: 19 healthy workers on a Norwegian oil rig participated in the study. They worked 2 weeks offshore followed by 4 weeks off work. The ordinary schedule consisted of 12-h day shift and 12-h night shift every other work period (14 days or nights=fixed shift). "Swing shift" involved 1 week of night shift, followed by 1 week of day shift during the work period. All participants worked ordinary day-night shift when baseline data were collected (questionnaires, saliva cortisol, and reaction time during work). After collection of baseline data the workers changed their work schedule to "swing shift", for every working period, and 9 months later the same data were collected. "Swing shift" did not give any negative health effects or any negative changes in reaction time during the day they shifted from night work to day work. Personnel adapted to night shift within a week regardless of schedule, but recovery from night shift took longer time. During swing shift the cortisol rhythm went back towards a normal rhythm in the second week, but it was not returned completely to normal values when they returned home for the 4 weeks off period. However, the cortisol rhythms were readapted to normal values after 1 week at home. For personnel returning home directly from 14 consecutive night shifts, cortisol adaptation was not complete after 1 week at home. We found no increase in health complaints from swing shift or reaction time in the shift from night to day work. Recovery from night shift takes longer time.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2010 · Psychoneuroendocrinology
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