Computer science researchers Deepak Ganesan and Tauhidur Rahman at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, as part of a multi-institution team, have received a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to explore how work performance may be affected by shift work and disrupted circadian rhythm, the 24-hour internal body clock that cycles between sleepiness and alertness.

Among other outcomes, cognitive performance, lost productivity and an increased incidence of accidents at work have been associated with shift work and disrupted sleep/wake patterns.

This research is part of NSF's "Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier" program.

Ganesan and Rahman of UMass Amherst's College of Computer and Information Sciences expect to receive about $630,000 for the study, which they'll conduct with colleagues at Rice and Cornell.

Approximately 20 percent of the labor force engages in shift work, which often leads to inadequate and poor sleep, the researchers say, and may lead to other complications including a higher likelihood for cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity and mental health problems.

They plan to design and develop a suite of on- and off-body sensing technologies that can infer the cognitive and biological state of shift workers.

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