Shift Work Sleep Disorder Defined
In our ever-changing, always evolving society, one is continuously pressured to step up and meet the demands of the modern world. Now, more than ever, with the phenomenon that is the internet and globalization driving the world, the world is literally awake 24 hours a day. In the labor market, this means that you are in competition for jobs with all other people from all over the world, as jobs can now be easily outsourced elsewhere in the world. Aside from traditional services which need a 24 hour watch like hospitals, everyday more and more jobs have shifted their working hours to nighttime rather than the normal 8 to 5 schedule. This phenomenon, while opening opportunities for many, has also exposed the same workers to certain health risks, one of which is the shift work sleep disorder.
One does not need a medical degree to understand the importance of regular sleeping habits. Sleep is our body’s way to recharge and revitalize. Without enough sleep, our body would just quickly deteriorate, and never recover from the many challenges it faces every day. However, as more and more job opportunities open up with abnormal graveyard work shifts at night, people are forced to take in these jobs, even at the expense of their own health conditions.
Shift work sleep disorder is a type of sleeping problem believed to be caused by abnormal work shift schedules. This leads people who work these schedules to stay up at night and work, instead of sleeping, as normal people would do. Come mornings, after work, when they do get a chance to sleep, people suffering from shift work sleep disorders would normally find it difficult to fall asleep. This is mainly because of the disruption in the body’s sleeping patterns. The human body usually works around a system; it recognizes patterns and works in regular schedules. Once the normal system, pattern and schedule are interrupted, there is no guarantee that the human body will be able to perform its tasks efficiently.
Shift Work Sleep Disorder Symptoms
A person experiencing shift work sleep disorder may exhibit the following symptoms: excessive sleepiness, difficulty in concentrating, frequent headaches, insomnia, and lack of energy, among others. These symptoms may often lead to increased irritability, more work-related mistakes and errors, increased probability of calling out sick from work, and mood swings.
Ultimately, the treatment for shift work disorder is to get back to one’s natural sleep rhythm and work on normal, day hours. However, as most people might not have the luxury to do that, one can try a few of these tricks to curb the effects of working on night shifts on one’s health. Avoid excessive overtime logged in at work might be advisable, as well as ensuring there would be as minimal time as possible spent on travel time going home. Arranging schedules such that you don’t have to work several days in a row might also be helpful. Avoiding caffeinated rinks and avoiding smoking are also highly advisable for people suffering from shift work sleep disorders.