Shift work is associated with adverse health outcomes. The aim of this study was to explore the effects of shift work on circadian activity rhythms (CARs) and objective and subjective sleep quality in nurses. Female day-shift (n = 16), evening-shift (n = 6), and night-shift (n = 13) nurses wore a wrist actigraph to monitor the activity. We used cosinor analysis and time–frequency analysis to study CARs. Night-shift nurses exhibited the lowest values of circadian rhythm amplitude, acrophase, autocorrelation, and mean of the circadian relative power (CRP), whereas evening-shift workers exhibited the greatest standard deviation of the CRP among the three shift groups. That is, night-shift nurses had less robust CARs and evening-shift nurses had greater variations in CARs compared with nurses who worked other shifts. Our results highlight the importance of assessing CARs to prevent the adverse effects of shift work on nurses’ health.
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