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J Physiol Anthropol. 2012 Mar 13;31:6. doi: 10.1186/1880-6805-31-6.

Prioritizing sleep for healthy work schedules.

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National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, 6-21-1, Nagao, Tama-ku, Kawasaki 214-8585, Japan.


Good sleep is advantageous to the quality of life. Sleep-related benefits are particularly helpful for the working class, since poor or inadequate amounts of sleep degrade work productivity and overall health. This review paper explores the essential role of sleep in healthy work schedules and primarily focuses on the timing of sleep in relation to the work period (that is, before, during and after work). Data from laboratory, field and modeling studies indicate that consistent amounts of sleep prior to work are fundamental to improved performance and alertness in the workplace. In addition, planned naps taken during work maintain appropriate levels of waking function for both daytime and night-time work. Clearly, sufficient sleep after work is vital in promoting recovery from fatigue. Recent data also suggest that the time interval between shifts should be adjusted according to the biological timing of sleep. Although sleep is more likely to be replaced by job and other activities in the real life, research shows that it is worthwhile to revise the work schedules in order to optimize sleep before, sometime during and after the work period. Therefore, we suggest establishing work-sleep balance, similar to work-life balance, as a principle for designing and improving work schedules.

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