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"Sleep when you're dead" is not the best approach, says leading doctor

Jonathan Warren

16.03.2012

Sleep

Jonathan Warren
100926939The minimalist approach to sleep - as favoured by the likes of Margaret Thatcher - could not be the best approach to your health, according to Dr Christian Jessen. In his piece for the London Evening Standard on March 14th, Dr Jessen said that shift workers who rarely see their beds, such as junior doctors, may be doing particular damage to their natural synchrony. This means that when they finally have time to sleep, getting rest of any quality is difficult. He dismissed claims that a sleep-when-you-can approach to resting is more damaging than beneficial and said: "Shifts in sleep patterns, such as due to shift work, can lead to a catastrophic disruption of sleep control mechanisms." He went on to add: "Franklin's quote: 'there will be plenty of time to sleep when you are dead' is one of the most foolish I know." If you are a shift worker struggling for sleep, try to keep a routine as much as you can. Dr Jessen believes biphasic sleeping patterns - where sleep is divided into two sessions - are better than trying to have your sleep all at once. Try to sleep for a few hours at night, and then again in the afternoon. If you are struggling with your sleep to an extent that you feel it is seriously affecting your health, it might be time to discuss matters with your employer. Arranging a more regular shift pattern could really help, as it will allow your body to get into a regular routine of rest and work.

About the author

Jonathan Warren

Jonathan Warren

Time4Sleep owner