What is the preferred number of consecutive night shifts?

Results from a crossover intervention study among police officers in Denmark
Among police officers in Denmark, we studied (i) how many consecutive night shifts participants preferred at baseline; (ii) preferences regarding three intervention conditions (two, four, and seven consecutive night shifts followed by the same number of days off/day shifts: ‘2 + 2', ‘4 + 4', ‘7 + 7') at follow-up; (iii) characteristics of participants preferring each of these intervention conditions. Questionnaire data from a crossover intervention study were used (baseline: n = 73; follow-up: n = 68). At baseline, 49% preferred four consecutive night shifts. At follow-up, 57% preferred ‘4 + 4', 26% preferred ‘2 + 2' and 26% preferred ‘7 + 7'. Participants, who preferred longer spells of night work experienced that night work was less demanding, found it easier to sleep at different times of the day, and were more frequently evening types compared with participants who preferred shorter spells of night work. The participants' preferences are likely to be influenced by their previous shift work experience.

Source: Nabe-Nielsen K, Jensen MA, Hansen ÅM, et al. Ergonomics, 2016.

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