Office workers and employees have to face tough times keeping up with their jobs. Many people have to work at night or rotating shifts. This causes a disturbance in a person’s sleeping schedule which can have bad consequences. People may stay awake at sleeping time and experience excessive sleepiness in theworking hours. This sleep disorder resulting due to working shifts is known as Shift work sleep disorder.
Sometimes, this sleep disorder is confused with Insomnia. Insomnia is a sleep disorder where people find it hard to fall asleep. It can arise due to various mental and physicalconditions. However, Shift Work Sleep Disorder specifically results due to improper working schedules. It can disturb a person’s daily life routine and he or she may find it difficult to maintain a proper sleep and work schedule.
Causes of Shift Work Sleep Disorder
One scientific explanation for this sleep disorder is that our body has an internal circadian clock that maintains a proper sleep wake schedule of our body. It does so by sensing the light and dark outside by receiving signals through the retina. Due to this alignment, our body naturally feels the urge to sleep at night times. For night shift workers, it can therefore be problematic.
One other cause for Shift Work Sleep Disorder is Microsleep. Workers may take some time off and sleep for a short period of time. It causes sleep deprivation and as a result, a person may suffer from various health issues.
Symptoms of Shift Work Sleep Disorder
There are other symptoms of Shift Work Sleep Disorder in addition to sleep urge at work time. These symptoms are widely observed especially in people who work in rotating shifts. Some of these major symptoms are given below:
- Lack of concentration
- Energy deficiency
- Microsleeps during work
- Depression and sudden mood swings
- Relationship problems
- Sleeplessness at night
Health Risks Related to Shift Work Sleep Disorder
Shift Work Sleep Disorder can have serious effects on a person’s physical and mental health. IN some cases it can be a life threatening disorder as cases have been reported where people suffered car accidents due to sleeping while driving. Other health risks related to this sleep disorder are sickness and irritability. Continuous bad temper can affect a person’s professional and personal reputation.
Treatment for Shift Work Sleep Disorder
There have been in-depth analysis and comprehensive research on this sleep disorder and sleep therapists suggest some measures that can reduce and thereby, eliminate the symptoms of Shift Work Sleep Disorder. Some of the common treatment methods are as follows:
- A person should have a proper sleep of at least 8 hours every day regardless of what time it is scheduled at.
- Make sure to minimize light exposure while sleeping especially at day time.
- Maintain a quiet atmosphere. If present in a crowded environment, ask your colleagues or family members to keep low voices.
- Consumption of caffeine during work can help build concentration and keep you alert.
- Do not burden yourself with extended work hours. Prioritize sleep ahead of work.
Medications for Shift Work Sleep Disorder
There are certain medications to ensure a timely sleep as well as others which can ensure alertness and wakefulness during work hours.
Melatonin is said to alter the rest time of the circadian clock. It should be consumed with consultation of a doctor.
Hypnotics are also suggested by doctors to ensure daytime sleep.
Shift Work Sleep Disorder disturbs a person’s working schedule as it deprives them of sleep causing excessive sleepiness and lack of concentration at work, However, it is a treatable disorder and can be cured if properly treated.