As a country, we’re pretty sleep-deprived. It’d be foolish for us to offer a catchall solution, but new research has found something for people who do shift work.
A study published in Current Biology has found that altering shift worker’s schedules such that they’re sleeping at their optimal times can reduce “social jet-lag” and improve their quality of life. Researchers had their participants complete a survey that indicated their sleep chronotype (you can take a similar test here), which just means they sorted out who was a night owl and who was an early riser. Then they altered their participants shifts at work, giving early shifts to early risers and late shifts to night owls.
As you might expect, this worked pretty well. “Social jet-lag” disappeared (i.e., problems resulting from differences in sleep schedules between workdays and days off), stress levels didn’t alter, quality of life increased, and early risers were more satisfied with their leisure time.
Of course, what works for shift-workers won’t necessarily work in an office. However, if you’re a shift-worker who’s working on the wrong schedule, maybe it’s time to find someone in a similar boat and trade shifts. Your body will thank you.