NEW SLEEP GUIDELINES FOR SHIFT WORKERS

Australian researchers have crafted 18 new sleep guidelines exclusively tailored for shift workers with unconventional hours – a group often overlooked by traditional sleep advice.

Common sleep hygiene recommendations have remained largely unchanged since the 1970s, and they might not effectively address the needs of shift workers who are active during non-standard sleep times.

The novel guidelines propose strategies like devising a sleep schedule based on work shifts, smoothly transitioning to days off through brief naps and adjusted bedtimes and utilizing naps to enhance alertness and combat fatigue.

These guidelines also recognize the advantages of caffeine and daytime naps for shift workers, aspects that were often discouraged in older guidelines.

The researchers have identified that shift work can lead to circadian misalignment, which poses challenges for shift workers to initiate and sustain sleep. The new guidelines tackle this issue by providing precise recommendations for managing sleep and fatigue.

The experts suggest developing tactics to handle sleep inertia (post-waking grogginess), being mindful of caffeine consumption's timing, contemplating food intake during night shifts, and seeking professional advice for persistent sleep issues.

The researchers honed their guidelines by drawing insights from sleep, shift work, and occupational health specialists. Their objective is to offer pragmatic and pertinent advice that aids shift workers in enhancing sleep quality and overall well-being, while considering their distinct work schedules.

Click on the study link below to access all 18 guidelines.

Healthy Sleep Practices for Shift Workers: Consensus Sleep Hygiene Guidelines using a Delphi Methodology. Alexandra Shriane, et al, Australia, Sleep, published online July 2023, doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsad182.

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