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Developing and testing an intervention for Shift Work Sleep Disorder in NHS workers

Funder: National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) (£2.6m)
Project duration: 2023-2028
Principal Investigator: Prof David Ray, University of Oxford
Collaborating Institutions: University of Oxford, King's College Hospital, University of Manchester, Manchester University Healthcare Trust


Our research aims to develop and test ways to help NHS staff whose lives are severely disrupted because they work shifts. These treatments, which we call ‘interventions’, will be based around changing people’s behaviour to improve their sleep and wellbeing. Around a third of shift workers who work night, early morning and rotating shifts have Shift Work Sleep Disorder in which their natural body clock is so severely disrupted that they have difficulty falling asleep at home and are sleepy at work. This makes them ill, disrupts their personal life and quality of life, and can lead to accidents at work. There is currently no treatment for this condition.

The NHS is the UK's largest employer of shift workers and keeping them well is important for recruiting and retaining staff and keeping patients safe. We have learnt a lot about sleep, why people respond differently to disturbed sleep and what treatments can be used to help people. We would like to apply this knowledge to develop and test treatments for shift workers in the NHS, and other employers.

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