People who work non-traditional work hours, such as 11pm to 7am, or the “graveyard” shift, are more likely than people with traditional daytime work schedules to develop a chronic medical condition — shift work sleep disorder — that disrupts their sleep, new research has revealed.

And, according to the researchers at the University of Missouri, the people who develop this condition are more than three times more likely to be involved in a crash.

“This discovery has many major implications, including the need to identify engineering counter-measures to help prevent these crashes from happening,” said Praveen Edara, the University’s department chair and professor of civil and environmental engineering and of the study’s authors.

“Such measures can include the availability of highway rest areas, roadside and in-vehicle messaging to improve a driver’s attention, and how to encourage drivers who may have a late-night work shift to take other modes of transportation, including public transit or ride-share services.”

The analysis was based on data collected from a real-world driving study for the second Strategic Highway Research Program established by the U.S. Congress.

In the past, researchers have studied sleep disorders primarily in a controlled environment, using test-tracks and driving simulators.