Researchers from a German university published a study supporting the idea that scheduling shift work based on employees’ chronotype can enhance sleep quality and minimize social jetlag.
In the study, factory workers were given three chronotypes (early, late, or intermediate). Simply put, a chronotype refers to the extent one is a morning or evening person. This in turn is based on our body’s unique but natural circadian rhythms.
Having assigned chronotypes, employees were given ideal schedules: morning people never received shifts that required them to stay up later than usual, while night people did not have to wake up earlier than they generally do.
The researchers then examined the workers’ sleep quality and well-being, among other indicators. They discovered that customizing shifts based on chronotype helped employees get better sleep. It also reduced social jetlag, which occurs when our body’s natural sleep cycle does not correspond to what we need for our activities. It happens, for instance, when we feel lethargic at work after a long holiday.
The study was published in an issue of Current Biology.
Read the abstract or read a less technical summary.