My goal is to pursue research in the area of sleep and wake performance, with a particular focus on individuals who have irregular sleep-wake schedule - night shift workers. My training has focused on the interaction of symptoms of excessive sleepiness and /or insomnia observed in night shift workers and their brain functioning during wakefulness. My immediate scientific goals are to apply my knowledge of electrophysiological methods of brain function assessment of attention and memory in symptomatic and asymptomatic night workers. I have proposed an intensive period of training focused on the investigation of possible predictors of excessive sleepiness and insomnia in night workers that might be triggered by circadian phase change with clinically significant symptoms leading to neuronal deficits in attention and memory. Training will be organized in main three modules each providing specific instruction and consultations regarding topics related to the proposed research plan and long term in my career goal of becoming an independent investigator. Environment: Henry Ford Health Systems is a well established research facility and would be an ideal training site for this award. Proven mentorship, strong within and across departmental collaboration and an institution with a dedicated research commitment combine to provide a setting well suited for the career development of a young scientist. Research: According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics more then 7 million Americans work on a night or rotating-shift basis. Epidemiological studies show a subset (10%) of night and rotating-shift workers have clinically significant symptoms of excessive sleepiness and/or insomnia. These sleep-wake disturbances may be due to differences in circadian adaptation to the shift work schedule. In addition, the impaired wakefulness during night work and the commute home can be seriously impaired due to impact of these symptoms on attention and memory brain function. However, to date, these impairments were never measured in night workers with symptoms of excessive sleepiness and/or insomnia, and we do not know what degree of impairment is present. Our research plan addresses that gap and we propose 1) determine whether the symptomatic night shift workers have an advanced phase of their circadian pacemaker relative to asymptomatic night workers;2) determine what components of physiologic maladaptation to night work are associated with neurophysiological correlates of impairment in attention and memory processes;3) whether excessive sleepiness is associated with deficit of brain activity related to memory process in night shift workers, and 4) whether insomnia is impacting the attentional processes in the brain of night workers.

Public Health Relevance

Epidemiological studies have shown that 10% of night and rotating-shift workers experience clinically significant excessive sleepiness and/or insomnia symptoms. Importantly, excessive sleepiness and/or insomnia in shift workers may cause the impairments in attention and memory function that severely impact work and non-work performance. The reason for these negative consequences might be a failure of circadian pacemaker to adapt to a shift-work schedule. Yet, the impact of circadian maladaptation on the neurophysiology of memory and attention processes has not been systematically investigated. This proposal addresses this significant gap in knowledge, by using a simultaneous examination of circadian phase, sleep, sleepiness, and neurophysiological event-related potential measures of memory and attention in night workers with excessive sleepiness and/or insomnia and will compared these measures obtained from asymptomatic night shift workers.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research & Training (K01)
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Safety and Occupational Health Study Section (SOH)
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Karr, Joan
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Henry Ford Health System
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Drake, Christopher L; Belcher, Ren; Howard, Ryan et al. (2015) Length polymorphism in the Period 3 gene is associated with sleepiness and maladaptive circadian phase in night-shift workers. J Sleep Res 24:254-61
Belcher, Ren; Gumenyuk, Valentina; Roth, Thomas (2015) Insomnia in shift work disorder relates to occupational and neurophysiological impairment. J Clin Sleep Med 11:457-65
Gumenyuk, Valentina; Belcher, Ren; Drake, Christopher L et al. (2015) Differential sleep, sleepiness, and neurophysiology in the insomnia phenotypes of shift work disorder. Sleep 38:119-26
Gumenyuk, Valentina; Howard, Ryan; Roth, Thomas et al. (2014) Sleep loss, circadian mismatch, and abnormalities in reorienting of attention in night workers with shift work disorder. Sleep 37:545-56
Gumenyuk, Valentina; Roth, Thomas; Drake, Christopher L (2012) Circadian phase, sleepiness, and light exposure assessment in night workers with and without shift work disorder. Chronobiol Int 29:928-36