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Evidence-Based Resource Summary

Strength of Evidence: 
4 out of 4
4 out of 4
Year Published: 

Pharmacological Interventions for Sleepiness and Sleep Disturbances Caused by Shift Work

Description of Resource: 
Shift work can cause sleepiness and sleep disorders. This systematic review evaluated the effects of pharmacological interventions to reduce sleepiness and decrease sleep disturbances in shift workers. It identified 15 studies with a total of 718 participants. The studies evaluated either drugs for improving sleep problems or drugs to decrease sleepiness. This review found low-quality evidence that melatonin improves sleep length, but not sleep quality, after a night shift. Hypnotics did not increase sleep length or quality. Modafinil and armodafinil can decrease sleepiness but may also cause adverse events. Caffeine plus naps can reduce sleepiness. There is a need for more and better-quality trials on the beneficial and adverse effects of all pharmacological agents that induce sleep or promote alertness in shift workers.

Evidence-Based Resource Details

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Developed By: 
Cochrane Review
Developer Type: 
Non-Federal Government
Healthy People 2020 Topic Area(s): 
Occupational Safety and Health
Sleep Health
Healthy People 2020 Objectives: 
Resource Type: 
Systematic Review
Liira J, Verbeek JH, Costa G, Driscoll TR, Sallinen M, Isotalo LK, et al. Pharmacological interventions for sleepiness and sleep disturbances caused by shift work. Cochrane Database Syst Rev [Internet]. 2014 [cited 2018 Mar 30];(8). Art. No.: CD009776. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD009776.pub2. Available from: