Time zone crossing
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary Daily diary records of sleep and activity, and 4-h measurements of body temperature, performance and subjective alertness were collected on board ship from 15 watchkeepers on the 4-on/8-off system, and from 28 dayworkers, on both westward and eastward transatlantic voyages. The data from a balanced sample of the subjects were analysed over selected 8-d periods of the voyages where four or five time zones were crossed. During these periods the average amount of daily sleep obtained by dayworkers on the eastward voyage was more than 1 h less than that on the westward voyage, and its quality was rated lower. Watchkeepers' main sleep was also shorter when travelling eastward, but this reduction was partially compensated for by a slightly longer secondary sleep. With the exception of subjective alertness on the eastward voyage, the basic phase of the circadian rhythms in the measured variables adjusted appropriately to the clock changes associated with the time zone crossings. The normal shape of the average daily curves was, however, altered differentially in the two directions of travel; as a result, morning levels of all variables were lower on the eastward voyage than on the westward, but evening levels were higher. These distortions of rhythm waveforms, which probably arose from a combination of endogenous and exogenous factors, add another dimension to the basic problem caused by the effects of circadian rhythms on operational efficiency in the shipboard situation. This problem can only be solved by the development of alternative watchkeeping systems which take full account of these rhythms.
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