Journal of Wellness


Introduction: Extensive research has demonstrated that shift work can be detrimental to sleep. Chronotype, the preference for time of day to sleep or be active, can influence how we function at different times of day and how shift work impacts us. This study was designed to assess the chronotype of emergency physicians (EPs) and emergency advanced practice providers (EAPPs) and examine how chronotype was related to sleep problems and shifts worked over a three-month period.

Methods: A survey assessing chronotype and sleep quality was sent to 225 EPs and EAPPs in a single, large academic Department of Emergency Medicine. An archival database indicated the shifts worked during the prior three months and the percentages of day, evening, and night shifts for each practitioner were calculated.

Results: 127 people completed the survey (56.4%). Of the three chronotypes (morning, intermediate, evening), most EM clinicians were categorized as intermediate chronotype (56/127, 44.1%), followed by morning type (39/127, 30.7%) and then evening type (32/127, 25.2%). Those with an evening chronotype were more likely to report daytime dysfunction (a lack of enthusiasm and propensity to fall asleep during activities) (p < 0.01) and worked a greater percentage of night shifts than other chronotypes (p < 0.05). Interestingly, the effect of evening chronotype on daytime dysfunction was no longer significant when controlled for the relatively greater percentage of night shifts worked, suggesting that the observed dysfunction was more likely an artifact of the night shifts worked, rather than purely chronotype driven.

Conclusion: This is the first study of a large cohort of EM practitioners investigating chronotype and its influence on shift preference and sleep quality. In this pilot investigation, most of the surveyed clinicians were categorized as an intermediate chronotype. Working night shifts was associated more closely with daytime dysfunction than was chronotype, strengthening the latent literature that working night shift carries with it significant challenges to the EM clinician. Future research should evaluate the relationship between chronotype malalignment to practitioner burnout and well-being.





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