Shift work sleep disorder occurs when people experience difficulty in adjusting their sleep routine with their work schedule. It impacts the ability of a person to sleep peacefully on a regular basis. Hectic work schedules, unmanageable stress and pressure of meeting deadlines can impact the quality and duration of sleep. If left untreated, it can reduce one’s performance in the workplace and affect normal daytime activities.
Shift work sleep disorder is mostly found among people who work in night shifts. Software professionals, call centre employees, workers of manufacturing companies and nursing staff of hospitals who work round the clock experience a constant state of circadian disruption.
Circadian rhythms are important for normal health because they provide internal synchronization between the body and the environment. People who work in rotating shifts may experience one of the following symptoms – drowsiness, loss of concentration, depleted energy levels, mood swings and irritability. Less sleep before a shift can lead to dangerous work conditions and lead to accidents, both on and off the job.
Reasons for shift work sleep disorder
Rising unemployment levels in current times have left people with no option but to work in different shifts. Any work that a person performs out of the regular 9 am to 6 pm schedule is considered shift work. These shifts can be irregular and have severe health consequences.
The doctor may inquire about sleep patterns and history of sleep routine of the patient. Questions regarding medical history and current medications might also be asked by the physician in order to find out the main cause of sleep disorder.
There are different ways to manage shift work sleep disorder. However, one should never underestimate the importance of a good night sleep and should make it a priority.
Lifestyle changes which can offer relief in shift work
• Try to maintain a regular sleep wake time on all days of the week.
• Take a break of 48 hours after a series of shifts.
• Limit the use of caffeine at least 4 hours before bedtime.
• Use earplugs to drown out sound while you sleep.
• Maintain a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
• Take half an hour nap before a work shift.
• Use over- the- counter Melatonin.
Treatment Options for shift work sleep disorder
Popular sleep aids such as melatonin improve the quality of sleep. One can also try hypnotics and sedatives. Best sleeping pills such as Ambien (Zolpidem) can offer satisfactory sleep after a tiresome and exhaustive shift. However, sleep medicines should always be taken after getting a green signal from a general physician.