Sleep, Sleepiness, and Fatigue on Board Faroese Fishing Vessels

Annbjørg Abrahamsen, Pál Weihe, Fróði Debes, Wessel M.A. van Leeuwen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: Faroese fishers have four times more accidents than workers on land. The aim was to understand fishers’ fatigue better and
how their work and sleep patterns influenced their sleepiness levels and cognitive performance.
Materials and Methods: A total of 157 Faroese fishers wore wrist-worn actigraphs at sea and one week on land and filled in sleep
and sleepiness diaries during the trip. Furthermore, a 3-minute simple reaction time (SRT) test was completed at the beginning and end
of the trip. The ship’s movement and noise were also logged. The actiwatch results were analysed with mixed methods repeated
measures. The sleepiness registrations and performance on the SRT-test were analysed with paired t-test. The ship movements (Pitch
and roll) were divided into approximately three same-sized groups (lowest 1/3, medium 1/3, and highest 1/3) and compared against the
Karolinska Sleepiness Scores (KSS ranging from 1–9) ≥7 and physical tiredness (ranging from 1–9) scores ≥7. Chi-square tests were
used to determine the significance of these differences. Mean sleepiness scores at sea, and the proportion of sleepiness scores ≥7 were
calculated, as well as sleepiness scores as a function of the time of day.
Results: While at sea, fishers had more split sleep, slept less, and had lower sleep efficiency than onshore. Sleepiness was higher at the
end of the trip, and cognitive decline was found. The number of major lapses was higher at the end of the trip, but with no significant
difference between the median reaction times.
Conclusion: The crew on-board the freezer longliner, who worked 8–8 shifts, slept the most, had the longest continuous sleep
periods, the highest sleep efficiency, the lowest sleepiness levels, and the highest noise exposure during their time off.
Keywords: fisher, fishing, shift work, tired, actigraph
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-362
Number of pages16
JournalNature and Science of sleep
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022


  • fisher
  • fishing
  • shift work
  • tired
  • actigraph


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