The Saul R. Korey Department of Neurology

Hosted by Dr. Michael Thorpy

The Impact of Circadian Disruption on Shift Workers: Healthcare and Disease

General Information

Statement of Need 

Recent catastrophic bus and train accidents in the Bronx, New York, have highlighted the importance of understanding the negative effects of circadian sleep-wake disruption in shift workers, especially those in positions of responsibility for public safety, including bus and train operators and healthcare workers. Scientific evidence exists that manipulations by employers and employees can reduce the risk of errors due to sleep deprivation, so long as there is an understanding of underlying chronobiologic principles and the corresponding therapeutic options that can reduce and improve circadian disruption.

Activity Goal 

This program is designed to present the current understanding of chronobiology and the effects upon health and disease and to highlight the importance of circadian disruption on shift workers’ performances and productivity. Appropriate interventions can be undertaken by employers and employees to mitigate the effects of circadian disruption by manipulating shift workers’ environment and working conditions, with the goal of improving public safety and patient care.

Learning Objectives 

At the conclusion of the program, participants should be able to:

  • Interpret the physiological basis for circadian rhythms and the way they influence all medical systems.
  • Master the clinical features and treatment of circadian sleep disorders, including shift work, delayed sleep phase syndrome and non-24-hour disorder.
  • Describe the societal impact of shift work on the transportation industry, including bus and train drivers.
  • Recognize the impact of sleep deprivation and shift work on established healthcare workers, those in training, and all medical and surgical specialists, including intensive care workers.

Intended Audience 

This activity is intended for employers and administrators responsible for employees who perform shift work, especially those in healthcare, transportation and other industries; and for physicians, nurses and other healthcare workers who are interested in the effects of sleep deprivation and circadian sleep-wake disorders on performance and productivity.


Michael J. Thorpy, MD

Shift Work and Its Effects on Healthcare Workers
Charles A. Czeisler, PhD, MD, FRCP

The Transportation Industry and Catastrophes Caused by Circadian Disruption
Jana M. Price, PhD

The Circadian Clock and Its Genetic Influence on Peripheral Body Clocks
Joseph S. Takahashi, PhD

Q & A 

Epigenetic Influences on Sleep and Chronobiology
Mark F. Mehler, MD, FAAN, FANA

Circadian Effects on Disorders of Internal Medicine
Phyllis C. Zee, MD, PhD

The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and Circadian Dysregulation
Richard J. Schwab, MD

Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders and Their Treatment
Michael J. Thorpy, MD

Q & A 

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