The History of Biocompatible Shift Schedules

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Have you ever wondered how the best practices for shift scheduling were created? 

Introduction

A century ago, the impacts of shift scheduling on workers’ health and safety were not considered.  Employees worked long hours with few days off, on shifts incompatible with our human physiology.  It was the curiosity of a surgical resident and the discovery of the human biological clock that brought circadian rhythms to our shift-scheduling consciousness.

In the 1970s, as a young surgical resident, Dr. Martin Moore-Ede, CIRCADIAN’s CEO, worked 36-hour shifts.  Yes, you read that correctly - 36-hour shifts. And he’d often only receive 12 hours off after each shift.  Throughout his residency, Dr. Moore-Ede became fascinated by the ebb and flow of his alertness levels throughout his long shifts. He noticed times during the shift when he felt alert, vibrant, and energetic.  As you’d expect, other times, exhaustion and waves of fatigue washed over him.   

With his curiosity piqued, Dr. Moore-Ede returned to school to understand the ebbs and flows of our alertness levels throughout the day.  For example, we can all relate to the “post-lunch dip” and how, regardless of the sleep we got the night before, our energy, attention, and focus dip during this period.

Fast forward a few years, while teaching at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Moore-Ede led the research team that discovered our “biological clock.”  The Suprachiasmatic Nucleus, better known as our “biological clock,” is the central pacemaker of our circadian timing system and regulates most circadian (or daily) rhythms in the body like when we get hungry, when hormones are released, and when we get tired.  

After the news of the discovery of the biological clock hit the popular press, Dr. Moore-Ede began to receive calls from forward-thinking shiftwork companies looking for help for their exhausted workforce.  From there, CIRCADIAN was founded in 1983

As the pioneer of the concept of “Biocompatible Shift Scheduling,” CIRCADIAN has helped many companies across all industries to use circadian sleep science to create shift schedules that are easier on the body, resulting in better health, safety, productivity, and quality of life outcomes for the shift worker.  

Since the discovery of our biological clock, extensive research has been done globally on circadian rhythms, fatigue, and shift scheduling. This research has culminated in a general agreement on shift scheduling “best practices” to minimize the fatigue risk inherent in every shift schedule.  

Some of these best shift scheduling practices involve: 

  1. Setting work hour limits
  2. Limiting the number of consecutive workdays
  3. Controlling the speed of the rotation, and
  4. Setting minimums for breaks between work blocks. 

The evolution of biocompatible shiftwork schedules has allowed CIRCADIAN to help companies across diverse industries design hundreds of circadian-friendly schedules and foster a healthier, more productive workforce.  If you are interested in learning more about shift scheduling best practices, give us a call!  As pioneers in the field, we welcome the opportunity to discuss the unique challenges your organization may be facing.

CIRCADIAN: Leading the Charge in Shift Scheduling

CIRCADIAN has played a very instrumental role in translating such scientific insights into practical solutions. It provides services in fatigue risk management and training the employee hence enabling organizations to create shifts that foster the circadian rhythm. Their approach ensures satisfied workers who have their physiological needs met while on a shift and in turn ensures increased operational efficiency.

CIRCADIAN's 40th Year in Business

Four decades of specialization in human physiology and circadian rhythms empower us to expertly assess and craft staffing and scheduling solutions. We focus on developing training, shift schedules, and fatigue-management strategies that will improve human performance and promote safety, health, and quality of life.

Reflecting on the extraordinary evolution from the initial days of shift work to today's sophisticated, circadian-adapted practices, it's clear that informed scheduling plays a pivotal role in boosting health, safety, and efficiency in round-the-clock operations. CIRCADIAN's innovative contributions, strengthened by four decades of expertise, have firmly established it as a leader in cultivating a healthier, more productive workforce.

Embark on Your Journey to Optimized Shift Scheduling

  1. Request a Consultation: Want to know more about how Biocompatible Shift Scheduling can overhaul your organization? Plan a call with our experts today.
  2. Email Us: Any questions or want us to cover anything specific? Feel free to email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for deeper insights and assistance.
  3. Call Us: Would you prefer a direct conversation? Then call our team at +1 (781) 439-6300 and get more information on how we can assist you in making the most of your shiftwork strategies.
Additionally attached are white papers that provide valuable insights into shift schedules. Share them with your team to start making informed changes today. Explore more whitepaper here.

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