Shift work sleep disorder (SWSD), is particularly a topic meant for people who find difficulty to sleep, due to their rotating shifts or night shifts. The problem arises when the natural sleep and wake pattern of our body is altered or disturbed. This pattern is known as Circadian rhythm. It is body’s internal clock.
Normally the circadian rhythm tells your body to remain awake during day time, and to sleep at night. But when you work in night shifts and sleep during day, your body may find difficulty in resetting this internal clock.In SWSD, there is repeated interruption of sleeping schedule in a person, this leads to insomnia or sleepiness.
The disorder is common among people working from 10 pm to 6 pm, or with people who have to frequently change their daytime and nighttime shifts. However, the disorder does not affect everyone; some people can easily adjust to it, while some people might find it extremely difficult.
Symptoms Of Sleeping Disorder
Here are some of the common shift work sleep disorder symptoms. It is not necessary for all people to suffer from each and every symptom.Any of these symptoms can be experienced by the person suffering from this disorder. If you find any of these symptoms that are troubling you, you should talk to your doctor.
- Difficulty in concentrating.
- Feeling excessive sleepy.
- Frequent headaches.
- Raised stress level.
- Low energy level.
- Gets irritated very fast.
According to a study, there is increased rate of accidents among people who are suffering from shift work sleep disorder. Also, work related errors and mistakes are in plenty as compared to their counterparts who have sound and undisturbed sleep for eight hours. Mood changes, anxiety and irritability among these individuals are common.
There is frequent occurrence of cold and flu and other illnesses among this people. It has been found by experts that shift workers have greater chances of health problems than people who work during daytime. There is increased risk of cancer, breast cancer in females and prostate cancer in males. Raised level of cholesterol, increased incidences of heart attack and obesity are also common.
Experts are not sure, why SWSD triggers serious ailments, but they are suspecting the role of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone responsible for sleep and wake cycle.
Shift Work Sleep Disorder Treatment
To treat shift work sleep disorder, physicians may prescribe sleeping pills that you have to take during the resting hours. Many melatonin supplements are available over the counter that may help to keep you awake, during the working shift hours. Phototherapy is also beneficial before a person starts his work.
While the best treatment is to work during daytime, it is not possible for everyone. However, you can cultivate your body and mind to sleep during day with the help of following steps.
- Keep the surrounding where you sleep dark and sound free. Use curtains and drapes to reduce the light or make the room dark. Cover your eyes with a mask.
- Use ear plugs if he sound around you is disturbing.
- While coming from work, wear dark glasses so that the light does not initiate the body’s waking response to light.
- Sleep as early as possible after you have finished your work.
- Reduce the number of night shifts. And take 2 days off, after 4 consecutive night shifts.
- Reduce working overtime.
- Avoid drinking caffeine containing drinks that include colas, tea and coffee. Especially few hours before you are going to sleep in the daytime.
- Avoid alcohol and cigarette smoking.
- Lastly eat healthy food and exercise regularly.