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SorintWellness- Sleep Health

Many of our colleagues at Sorint work irregular hours and night shift schedules. In the world of IT, this is a nonnegotiable! But we don’t need to sacrifice our wellbeing and more specifically, our sleep health, due to our schedules. With some attention to maintaining our sleep health, we can manage these changes. One practice that could be useful is called sleep banking.

Sleep banking, also known as sleep debt, refers to the practice of altering sleep patterns in advance to compensate for anticipated sleep loss in the future. The concept is based on the idea that individuals can "bank" or accumulate extra sleep during periods of ample rest to offset sleep deficits during times of restricted sleep.

For example, if someone knows they will have several nights of insufficient sleep due to a busy schedule or a night shift, they might try to accumulate extra sleep beforehand by going to bed earlier or sleeping in later than usual. Sleep banking, in theory, could potentially help employees who work night shifts by allowing them to accumulate extra sleep before starting their night shift schedule. Here's how it might work:

Adjusting Sleep Schedule: Before starting a series of night shifts, employees could gradually adjust their sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up later each day. This adjustment allows them to align their internal body clock (circadian rhythm) with the demands of working during the night.

Accumulating Extra Sleep: During the days leading up to the night shift schedule, employees could prioritize getting extra sleep to build up a "bank" of rest. This could involve going to bed earlier or allowing themselves to sleep in later than usual to ensure they are well-rested before the night shifts begin.

Mitigating Sleep Debt: By accumulating extra sleep beforehand, employees may be better equipped to handle the sleep disruptions and potential sleep deprivation associated with working night shifts. Having a sleep reserve can help buffer against the negative effects of sleep loss, such as decreased alertness and impaired cognitive function.

Improving Performance and Well-being: Adequate sleep is crucial for overall health, well-being, and cognitive function. By prioritizing sufficient rest before starting night shifts, employees may experience improved performance, concentration, and mood during their shifts.

However, it's essential to recognize that the effectiveness of sleep banking for night shift work may vary depending on individual factors such as sleep quality, circadian rhythm flexibility, and lifestyle considerations. Additionally, some research suggests that while sleep banking may help mitigate the effects of short-term sleep deprivation, it may not fully compensate for chronic sleep deficits associated with long-term night shift work. Ultimately, while sleep banking may offer some benefits for night shift workers, it's essential to prioritize strategies that promote consistent, quality sleep over the long term, such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule, creating a conducive sleep environment, and practicing good sleep hygiene habits. Additionally, employers can support their night shift employees by providing opportunities for adequate rest, scheduling sufficient breaks, and offering resources for managing shift work-related challenges.

For more information on wellbeing at Sorint and for other tips on improving your overall sleep health, feel free to contact us at sorintwellness@sorint.com.

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