The aim of this study was to examine a regular rotating 12-h shift system (2D2N4Off) at an Australian Smelter. Sleep behavior, subjective fatigue and neurobehavioral performance were investigated over a 14-day period for 20 employees. Activity monitors, sleep/wake diaries, and 5-min psychomotor vigilance tasks were used. Sleep data showed differences between day and night shifts. While sleep prior to night1 was increased relative to day shifts, a reduced sleep length carried into the period leading to night2. Total wakefulness at the end of shift, and subjective fatigue were increased for night shifts, particularly night1. Decrements in performance data supported these findings. Both prior wakefulness and prior sleep are important in a 12-h shift system. Employees may "sleep in" after day shifts, rather than taking extra sleep prior to night work. Thus, sleep between day and night shifts is based on recovery rather than preparation. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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