April 25, 2023

Reducing fatigue, errors during night shifts

By: Judy Mathias

Editor's Note

This Canadian study finds that nurses who received 40 minutes of bright light exposure before their night shifts had reduced fatigue and committed fewer errors at work.

Researchers at the McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, enlisted 57 nurses who were on a rotating schedule of both day and night shifts in the same week. The intervention group used evening light exposure and morning light avoidance, and the control group used diet modification.

Nurses in the intervention group recorded 21 errors in an initial observation period lasting 10 days. When these nurses were provided with 40 minutes of bright light exposure before their night shifts, they committed only 7 errors, a decrease of 67%. Nurses in the control group reduced errors by only 5%.

The intervention group reported less fatigue on work days than the control group, and the intervention group had a small improvement in mood.

Both groups showed reductions in fatigue and sleepiness and a small increase in sleep duration.

The researchers concluded that evening light may be a feasible and effective strategy to reduce fatigue and errors in night-shift nurses.


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