We are going to establish a 3-shift-system on our Stroke Unit coming month. So I wondered what literature there is about the best way to implement it. Rumour and a few recommendations have it that a forward shifting system (morning, late, night) is better than the converse, yet there is scant data to substantiate it. Even less obvious is how many night shifts in a row are best for a) the hospital b) the doctor.
If you can come up with some evidence, pls let me know.
Otherwise we can just list a few myths that are supposed to help to cope:
How to stay awake during long nights:
- Keep your room brightly lit and not too warm.
- Use coffee not for staying awake but to get into the mood.
- If you start to nod off, try a power sprint (100 m), get fresh air, drink and eat light.
- If you feel a dangerous dip, try to make room for a power nap.
How to get to sleep after a night shift:
- Make time for decompression after work before going to sleep
- Find something easy to read in bed
- No coffee 6h before going to sleep
- Eat light 1h before going to sleep
- Use helpers such as ear plugs, night covers, thick curtains etc.
- Use a standard routine (same book, same muzak etc.)
- Don’t force your sleep: Nothing more dangerous than calculating your lack of sleep while trying to sleep. If it doesn’t happen, so be it.
- Avoid sleeping pills and alcohol.
How to resynchronize:
- Use everything you would do for jet lag resynchronization.
- L-melatonin doesn’t help, but the retarded form might. Just for 1-2 days – if you have big resync issues.
- Get into the normal rhythm as quickly as possible.
How to make the best of it:
- Do morning business (shopping, bills, buerocratic stuff)
- Sports (skiing on tuesdays!!!)
- Show up at your spouse’s work with flowers (if applicable)
- Show up at your children’s daycare/school etc.
- Don’t expect to be able to do more than before on your free days – you need them to recover!