There is growing evidence that understanding the interindividual variability in sleep–wake responses to shift work will help detect and manage workers vulnerable to the health consequences of shift work.
A range of approaches can be used to enhance alertness in shift workers, including screening and treating sleep disorders, melatonin treatment to promote sleep during the daytime, and avoidance of inappropriate use of sedatives and wakefulness-promoters such as modafinil and caffeine. Short naps, which minimise sleep inertia, are generally effective.
Shifting the circadian pacemaker with appropriately timed melatonin and/or bright light may be used to facilitate adjustment to a shift work schedule in some situations, such as a long sequence of night work.
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