“That's really tough, because in essence it’s like you’re trying to work in Perth three days a week, and then all of a sudden you have to transition to working in London for four days a week – before snapping your fingers and going back to Perth.
Now if you were planning a trip to London, you wouldn’t think it was realistic to go there, adjust and function perfectly then come back, and adjust and function perfectly. But that’s really what that work schedule is asking of you. It’s important to recognise here that it’s biologically impossible to adjust to that pattern – so you need to approach your four night shifts in a well-rested state.
Make sure you have a fair bit of downtime and don’t try and organise too many things in the three days in between. Use napping and make sure you get as much sleep as possible. Then at the end of your night shift, be careful about not exposing your body to too much stimulation – you don’t want to give the brain any signals that it’s time to wake up. Put your sunglasses on and slink off to bed while your brain still thinks it’s dark. This way you can get three or four hours sleep before your body starts to wake up again. Use that time to do a few things and then catch a nap before heading off for the next shift.”
Dr David Cunnington, sleep physician.