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Studies of Shifts and Sleep May Help Correctional Officers

NCJ Number
Date Published
Philip Bulman
Publication Series
NIJ Update
This article from the August/September 2012 issue of Corrections Today examines how the use of varying shifts can improve the work of law enforcement and corrections personnel.
This article discusses the results of a study conducted by the Police Foundation in 2011 that examined whether the use of varying shifts could improve morale and reduce overtime costs among police personnel. Working with the Detroit Police Department and the Arlington, TX, Police Department, the study’s authors collected data on the effects of shift length using a variety of data collection methods, including surveys, sleep diaries, and alertness logs, as well as the use of laboratory-based instruments to measure fatigue. Information was collected on the following variables: health, quality of life, sleep, sleepiness, off-duty employment, and overtime hours. The officers were assigned to three different shift lengths for a period of 6 months each: 8-hour, 10-hour, and 12-hour shifts. The study’s findings indicate that the three shift lengths had no effect on work performance, health or work/family conflict, but that different shift lengths affected other variables in different ways. Officers working 10-hour shifts experienced significantly more sleep than those on 8-hour shifts, while those on 12-hour shifts experienced more sleepiness and less alertness compared to officers on 8-hour shifts. In addition, officers on 8-hour shifts had significantly more overtime and averaged less sleep than officers on longer shifts. Additional benefits of providing officers with the option for working longer shifts are also discussed. 2 endnotes
Date Created: October 18, 2012