Night Shift

Working the night shift: preparation, survival and recovery
A guide for junior doctors
Prepared on behalf of a multidisciplinary Working Group by Nicholas Horrocks MSc and Roy Pounder MD DSc FRCP

Royal College of Physicians of London 11 St Andrews Place, Regent’s Park, London NW1 4LE Registered Charity No 210508

Financial support for the Workshop and for Nicholas Horrocks were provided by NHS National Workforce Projects. To access more of their materials supporting the European Working Time Directive, and the wider issues around workforce planning and development, visit This Guide was prepared on behalf of a shortterm multidisciplinary Working Group (see page 23) which met at the Royal College of Physicians, London, on 4 November 2005. The Guide was also published in Clinical Medicine 2006 Vol 6.

© 2006 Royal College of Physicans of London ISBN 1 86016 259 2

Layout by Suzanne Fuzzey Printed in Great Britain by The Lavenham Group Ltd, Suffolk

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Introduction 4 Sleep and shift work 5 Night work and safety 6 Preparing for the night shift 8 Successful sleep at home 8 Getting plenty of sleep before your first night shift Taking an afternoon sleep 10 Can you adapt to night work? 10


Surviving the night shift 11 Maintaining your alertness and vigilance while on duty Napping while on duty 11 Bright light 13 Eating at night 13 Caffeine 14 Recovering from the night shift 16 Getting home from work 16 Working further night shifts 17 Before you go to bed 17 Sleeping in the daytime 18 Recovering after your final night shift 19 The way ahead References 21 23 20


Members of the Working Group...