(Shift) working to get a good night’s sleep

Can an app help shift workers improve their sleep and, in turn, help an organisation improve their safety? Credit Max LaRochelle https://unsplash.com/photos/QzP1GcDOSC8.

While Integrity Sampling helps companies improve their health and safety around drugs and alcohol, we know there are many other issues that can impact an employee’s ability to work safely, including sleep.

Many of our clients have workers who need to work around the clock and for many years the issues of shift workers getting enough sleep have been well known. Now, help could be on the way. According to Inside Construction, a world-first individualised app to improve the sleep of shift workers is being developed.

The app is called SleepSync and it’s designed to personalise sleep-wake cycles for shift workers to help them improve their sleep and their overall mood. A pilot trial has already been conducted with 27 people, all of whom have experienced sleep issues in the past. They used the app for two weeks to see what, if any, changes there would be.

The trial saw improvements in:

  • Total sleep time
  • Ability to fall asleep
  • Quality of sleep
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep hygiene
  • Sleep-related impairments
  • Anxiety
  • Stress

According to researchers, the pilot trial provides preliminary evidence of the positive impact that the SleepSync app can have on sleep and mood in shift workers. They believe the results also support further trials.

In the Inside Construction article, lead researcher Dr Jade Murray is quoted as saying: “SleepSync aims to aid behavioural change and provide practical advice to shift workers by providing personalised sleep scheduling recommendations and education. This has the potential to improve shift workers’ health and wellbeing and how they function day to day.

“It also has the potential for development and integration with wearable devices, such as smartwatches, and further help minimise the health costs associated with shift work to society.”

Sleep issues can lead to alcohol and drug issues

We know of the issues of sleep for shift workers and we also know that there can be an intrinsic link between sleep issues and drugs and alcohol.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) says the relationship is complex and bidirectional. In other words, while alcohol and drug use can lead to sleep problems, sleep problems can also lead to substance use.

While people often think that alcohol or other drugs will help them sleep, the reverse is the case. In fact, NIDA says that substance use can “…acutely disrupt sleep-regulatory systems in the brain, affecting the time it takes to fall asleep (latency), duration of sleep, and sleep quality.”

Certainly something to ponder if you’re having trouble sleeping.

Another thing to ponder is the effects of lack of sleep, whether you’re a shift worker whose circadian clock is out of whack or anyone having sleeping issues. As a rule of thumb, if you’ve been awake for 17 hours, the effects on your concentration, coordination, balance, vision and reflexes are about the same as having a blood alcohol level of 0.05. If you’ve been awake for 24 hours, it’s like being at 0.10.

Now, that’s certainly something to think about!


Can an app help shift workers improve their sleep and, in turn, help an organisation improve their safety? Credit Max LaRochelle https://unsplash.com/photos/QzP1GcDOSC8.

By Michael

Michael is the founder of Integrity Sampling and is responsible for overseeing all national operations. He is based at Integrity Sampling's head office in Melbourne and is also responsible for the co-ordination of drug and alcohol testing within Victoria, assisting in the implementation of drug and alcohol (fit for work) policies and the presentation of drug and alcohol education and awareness programs. You can connect with Michael Wheeldon on LinkedIn

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