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Time Change, Sleep and Fatigue: A Harm Reduction Approach

Updated: Nov 2, 2022


It’s no news that sleep, or the lack of sleep, is a high risk factor for workers in film and entertainment. With long shifts, variable work hours, overtime, and shortened turn-around times, finding a good sleep routine can feel like an impossible task.

A global survey of film and television workers (UNI Global Union/MEI, 2021; 150,000 crew across 22 countries[i]) has laid bare the effects of the screen industry’s long-hours culture on crews’ mental and physical wellbeing. 62% of those surveyed said their mental wellbeing had been “negatively impacted” by their work schedules and more than 25% in independent television production said “extreme fatigue” had resulted in serious incidents.


On November 6th, daylight saving time ends and clocks will be set back an hour – giving us an hour extra hour that night. While this move exists to maximize daylight hours to a typical day, it doesn’t help with consistency of sleep. In fact there is little evidence of extra sleep on the night as we ‘gain’ an hour. This is because we tend to keep our previous bedtime pattern despite earlier rise times, resulting in a net loss of sleep across the week as our sleep rhythm adjusts to the new hours.


How to best prepare for it


While any disturbance in our circadian (sleep) rhythm can affect our well-being, there are nonetheless ways to help our body adapt better to the new hour [ii]:

  1. Maintain a regular sleep pattern before and after the daylight saving time change. It is especially important that the time you wake up in the morning is regular. Indeed, the body releases cortisol in the morning to make you more alert. During the day, you will become more and more tired as your cortisol levels go down, which will help you then go to sleep at the new time in the evening.

  2. Gradually get your body used to the new time by slowly changing your sleep schedule over a week or so. By changing your bedtime 10-15 minutes earlier or later each day, you help your body smoothly adjust to the new schedule, reducing the ‘jet lag’ effect.

  3. Enjoy the sunlight in the morning. Morning light helps your body adjust faster and synchronizes your biological clock. Morning light also increases your mood and alertness during the day and helps you sleep better at night. With Vancouver’s shorter winter days, and rainy fall weather setting in, it may be wise to invest in a full spectrum white light lamp or a sunrise clock to help you get the morning light exposure you need.

  4. Avoid bright light at night. This includes blue light from cell phones, tablets, and other electronic devices. Blue light can delay the release of the sleep hormone melatonin, and shift our internal clock to a later time. So turn off those devices at least 30 minutes before sleeping, and make sure your room is dark and cool.


Resources:


This awareness campaign aims to promote the importance of sleep to maintain good health, to demystify sleep difficulties, and to offer solutions to Canadians.


This web tutorial was made for everybody who has to work nights, either occasionally or full-time. The tutorial comprises four units. The first three units provide information on the effects that night work may have on you, especially on your sleep. The fourth unit proposes many strategies that you may find appropriate to your situation and that you may like to try.


We at Calltime have listed some helpful resources to help you with sleep and/or fatigue.

 

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