The effect of the innovative split-sleep schedule on objective and subjective sleep in nurses working night shifts
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Shift work has grown extensively and is associated with decreased health and increased risk in the working environment. Sleeping and working at an adverse circadian time may result in these negative effects. The current study focused on the effect of a split-sleep schedule on subjective and objective sleep measurements in nurses working night shifts. We hypothesized that following the split-sleep schedule would result in a higher total sleep time (TST) and sleep efficiency (SE). Participants were randomly divided into a consolidated daytime condition (N = 11, mean ± age = 24.73 ± 2.28) and a split-sleep condition (N = 7, mean ± age = 25.57 ± 2.51). The daytime group slept once per 24 hours (e.g. 8.30 AM until 4.30 PM) and the split-sleep condition slept twice per 24 hours (e.g. 8.30 AM until 1.30 PM and 6.00 PM until 9.00 PM). The results showed that participants in the split-sleep condition obtained a significant higher subjective TST during night shifts compared to the participants in the consolidated daytime condition. No significant difference in the SE and TST two nights after the night shift series was found between the conditions. These results suggest that the innovative split-sleep schedule may be a good alternative to a consolidated daytime sleep as it may improve safety, productivity and counteract decreased health. It is expected that with a higher sample size these results will only be stronger.