Caffeine intake in shift workers – comparing day to night.

22 Oct Caffeine intake in shift workers – comparing day to night.

In today’s busy life, getting a burst of energy is a necessity to make it through the day. The easiest way to obtain this burst is through caffeine, either through coffee or other caffeinated beverages. Having a mid-day nap is not a feasible option for a lot of us, even though it would be strongly preferred. A recent study looked at the frequency that caffeine was consumed for those specifically who undertook shift work.

The study, conducted by Lieberman et al., looked at the 24-hour dietary recall data from NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) for the years of 2005 to 2010 where participants reported their caffeine intake for the last 24 hours, detailed their work schedule (whether they did day shift, evening shift, night shift, or a rotating roster), and a rough idea on their total sleep time per night.

Results showed that roughly 25% of people enlisted in the study are night shift workers and the average caffeine intake on weekdays is 194±6mg. Specifically, day shift workers consumed 68% more caffeine during work hours than during non-work hours whereas night shift works consumed 36% less during work hours and 72% more during non-work hours. Comparing employed to unemployed, employed participants consumed 196±4mg per day which was higher than the unemployed participants amount of 179±5mg per day. Overall, the caffeine intake for both day shift workers and night shift workers was not significantly different with their amounts consumed being relatively the same.

It was assumed that those who are on night shift consume more caffeine to endure the difficult working hours and to remain alert but this study highlights that this thought is not entirely accurate. What was more prevalent is the amount consumed outside of the shift to fight off the tiredness feeling caused by the work with night shift workers consuming more caffeine post-shift when compared to day shift workers. An interesting find from this study that, regardless of the time of the shift, caffeine consumption was at its highest during the morning hours.

The importance of the study highlights the reliance on caffeine that workers have in today’s busy life and that more often than not, workers will have a caffeinated beverage in the morning hours to push through the rest of the day and, unexpectedly, day shift workers will consume more caffeine than night shift workers.