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Does My Doctor Sleep? Night Shift Sleep Is Not the Same

September 20, 2019

Written by Thomas Davis

Spoon Feed
Day sleepers slept 23% less compared to those sleeping during evening and nighttime hours.

Why does this matter?
Sleep is essential to a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, working night shift is an inevitable work hazard for emergency physicians. In one survey of EP’s, 34% reported falling asleep while driving at least once over a 3-month interval. Although we intuitively know that daytime sleeping is harder, how much less sleep do we actually get during the day?

Sleepless in Sunlight
In this single-center study, 27 residents and attendings wore a wrist monitor to track their sleeping habits. Sleep sessions were organized into three intervals based on when participants fell asleep: day (6 A.M. – 2 P.M.), evening (2 P.M. – 10 P.M.), or night (10 P.M. – 6 A.M.). Daytime sleepers had the shortest median total sleep duration (5.3 +/- 2 hrs) compared to evening sleepers (7.3 +/- 1.8 hrs) and night sleepers (7.0 +/- 1.1 hrs). However, evening sleepers woke up more often from their sleep (1.5 vs 0.8 and 1.0 for day and night, respectively) and took the longest to fall asleep (36.5 minutes vs 24.9 and 22.3 minutes, respectively). This study is limited by being single-center. In this residency program, residents work an alternating schedule of day, evening, and night shifts in a clockwise rotation. Different programs may have different schedule arrangements that affect sleep quality.

Does My Emergency Department Doctor Sleep? The Trouble With Recovery From Night Shift. J Emerg Med. 2019 Aug;57(2):162-167. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2019.04.023. Epub 2019 Jun 29.

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