Your ability to successfully manage your life around police shifts is critical in developing a successful and fulfilling police career. If you have already experienced shift work, then you have some idea of the following challenges that shift work presents :
- Reduced QUANTITY of sleep as you move through different sleeping times throughout the roster. You may be working a 9am – 5pm at the start of the week, then progress to 3pm to 11pm, and then finally finish on night shifts from 9pm to 7am ALL IN THE SAME WEEK!
- Reduced QUALITY of sleep as sleeping during the day can be noisy or disrupted by family commitments and schedules. Falling asleep after an exciting or arduous shift can also be a challenge.
- Unusual schedule means that you may have days off when all your friends and family are at work (or asleep!).
- Suffering nutrition during night shift when you are awake at times that your body is not used to eating and asleep at times when you ARE used to eating. The body is also far more susceptible to fat storage when eating between the hours of 1am and 4am.
- Immersion in a police culture that favours caffeine and fast food as easy solutions to energy and food fixes.
BUT IT’S NOT ALL BAD….!
There are actually some serious benefits to the nature of shift work and many stations develop fantastic rosters that enable their police officers (and their families) to enjoy a quality lifestyle at work and at home. Here are a few of the potential benefits of shift work:
- Days off during the week are fantastic for completing personal admin, shopping and going to the gym when these facilities are less busy.
- Related to this is that you may be driving against peak traffic as you are often starting and finishing work at a different time that most people.
- Many of your friends will be other police officers who also have days off when you’re off.
- Most police are afforded an additional two weeks annual leave to make up for the fact that their shifts occasionally go over public holidays. This always ends up in your favor as most states only have about eight public holidays PLUS you may only work some of them.
- More and more police stations are equipped with gymnasiums so you can save time by fitting in your workout before or after your shift regardless of time of day (or night!).
- Long forecast rosters enable you to plan days off far ahead (some stations will provide a roster for the entire year up front).
- Many rosters will use ten hour shifts meaning you only work 4 out of 7 days in the week, effectively giving you a whole extra day free each week.
- You are reimbursed well for working afternoon and night shifts. This can be an extra few hundred dollars in your fortnightly pay cheque.
- If you’re a ‘Night Owl’ you will likely be one of the police officers who prefer the night shifts and you may even be able to pick up extra night shifts enabling you to keep the same sleep pattern (and the extra pay).
Ten hour shifts are the way of the future! Check out this video about the outstanding research report conducted at the Police Foundation in America. We are strong supporters of this amazing not-for-profit organisation seeking to improve policing across the world. You can read the full report via their website at http://www.policefoundation.org/
Reported benefits of 10 hour shifts include:
– Increased sleep quantity (An average of 30 minutes extra PER DAY)
– Reduced fatigue
– Improved quality of life
– Improved quality of service