Night-time shift work and related stress responses: A study on security guards

Emanuele Cannizzaro, Walter Mazzucco, Fulvio Plescia, Caterina Ledda, Tiziana Ramaci, Alessandro Scorciapino, Cesare Catalano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Work-related stress can induce a break in homeostasis by placing demands on the body that are met by the activation of two different systems, the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis and the sympathetic nervous system. Night-shift work alters the body’s exposure to the natural light– dark schedule and disrupts circadian (daily) rhythms. The greatest effect of night-shift work is the disruption of circadian rhythms. The impact that these disruptions may have on the pathogenesis of many diseases, including cancer, is unknown. This study aims to discover the relationship among three different job activities of security guards and their stress-related responses by evaluating salivary cortisol levels and blood pressure. Methods: Ninety security guards, including night-time workers and night-time and daily-shift workers, were recruited for this study. Each security guard provided two saliva samples before and after three scheduled time points: (i) at 22:00, (ii) at 06:30, and (iii) at 14:00. Results: The results of the study showed a significant alteration in cortisol levels. Night-time shift cortisol levels significantly increased before and after the work shifts. A physiological prevalence of the vagal tone on the cardiocirculatory activity was found during night-shift work. Conclusions: This study indicates that cortisol levels and blood pressure are sensitive markers of biological responses to severe work stress. Shift-change consequences may occur at the end of the night shift when there is a significant increase in the cortisol level and a significant variation in cardiovascular parameters.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)562-
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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