A simple coffee and a quick catnap could be the cure for staying alert on the nightshift as new research from the University of South Australia shows that this unlikely combination can improve attention and reduce sleep inertia.
In Australia, more than 1.4 million people are employed in shift work, with more than 200,000 regularly working night or evening shifts.
Lead researcher, Dr Stephanie Centofanti from UniSA Online and the Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory at UniSA says the finding could help counteract the kind of sleep inertia that is experienced by many shiftworkers.
“Shift workers are often chronically sleep-deprived because they have disrupted and irregular sleep patterns,” Dr Centofanti says.
“As a result, they commonly use a range of strategies to try to boost their alertness while on the nightshift, and these can include taking power naps and drinking coffee — yet it’s important to understand that there are disadvantages for both.
Dr Centofanti says this shows a promising fatigue countermeasure for shift workers. She says the next move is to test the new finding on more people.