Shift work sleep disorder is only a general term for some, while some are experiencing upturned life due to the same. Also known as SWSD, it is stemming a lot of short and long-term effects on shift worker’s lives.
Long and irregular working hours falling outside 7 AM to 6 PM are imbalances making many lives suffer. This usually happens with night-shift workers, as well as those who’re working with rotating shifts. Sometimes early morning calls or late-night working schedules don’t let your body get adequate rest. Above all, your circadian rhythm (the body’s biological clock) fails to signal whether it is sleep time or waking time.
You should show concern at this matter especially if you’re a shift worker. Workplace stress can anytime turn into workplace accidents due to lack of sleep & concentration. Similarly, health, wellbeing, and safety are compromised to a great extent outside your knowledge.
- A recent study reveals that taking micro-breaks on workdays is helping tired employees to bounce back from their morning fatigue. It also aids in better work engagement during the day.
- 23% of Americans are relying on prescription sleeping pills while 22% depend on OTC pills like melatonin for sleep.
- 76% of Americans agree that sleeplessness is interrupting their daily lives and money is the top-suppressor.
What is Shift Work Sleep Disorder?
Shift work sleep disorder is a type of narcolepsy or sleep apnea that affects people who are working during non-traditional hours. For instance, you’re someone whose work shifts keep changing from day to night, early mornings, etc. You may suffer from SWSD in the short or long term.
SWSD happens because the circadian rhythm or body clock is disturbed because of not getting enough sleep. Over time, people may start relying on limitless pills like Modalert that keep them active & productive while at work.
When shift work disorder symptoms are reported for at least three months, they’re accounted as the underlying sleeping disease. Also, these symptoms don’t need to forever be the same. Once the employee shifts to his traditional work schedule, they may subside. And no treatment might be required later.
Shift Work Disorder vs. Insomnia
Shift work disorder symptoms often overlap with the symptoms of insomnia. As per studies, people with shift work disorder have insomnia as compared to those experiencing excessive sleepiness at the workplace without insomnia symptoms whenever they try to sleep.
This concludes that shift work disorder is triggered by the imbalance with the circadian rhythm and natural light and darkness cycles. Shift-work employees thus experience difficulties in initiating sleep, staying asleep, or getting proper sleep. No wonder these are also the symptoms of insomnia & as they develop over time with shift work, significant sleep loss happens. Finally, an individual carrying such symptoms is diagnosed with shift work disorder.
Shift Work Disorder & its Cruel Impacts on Everyday Life
As sleep is an inevitable part of our lives, when it is affected, the routine life will likely get an impact. People suffering from shift work disorder witness some long-term & severe health complications like:
- Cancer, Heart diseases, and gastrointestinal disorders are more likely to put shift work employees at risk
- Shift workers are mostly addicted to alcohol and have drug dependencies
- Unhealthy diet habits are found among shift workers
- Consistently feeling ill
- More exposed to common colds or flu
- Fertility problems
- Menstrual irregularity
- Metabolic syndrome
In a nutshell, what seems normal isn’t normal anymore for shift workers as they start relying on substance abuse. This simply means that disturbed sleep creates a misalignment for every aspect of life.
Effect on mental health
Sleep and psychological health share a complicated relationship. The development and maintenance of several mental health issues rely on sleep. Similarly, sleep is responsible for changes in mental health conditions. We can also say that they both impact each other.
Stress, depression, anxiety, mood disorders, and some bipolar disorders take a toll on shift workers. They’ll possibly feel irritated and exhausted all the time. No wonder short-temperament is observed too. Chronic sleep deprivation is life-threatening, especially for night shift workers.
The changes happening with the normal sleep/wake cycles lead to manic episodes in 25% to 65% of people. Such psychiatric pressure created by SWSD is severe. It imposes critical health impacts, both physically and mentally. You should act before it is too late.
Get Medical Help
Needless to say that, you need at least 7 to 8 hours of sound sleep daily. Regardless of you working with shifts or doing a 9 to 5 job, your body needs rest. If your job life is ruining your sleep, you’re staking your hygiene for money.
Before you’re into major health troubles, talk to your friends and family if you’re having SWSD. Decreasing the effects of SWSD is very important. You may consult a therapist & they may suggest with certain lifestyle changes like:
- Maintaining a sleep diary for tracking sleep timings
- Opt for days-off in-between constant night shifts
- Avoiding overtime or prolonged shifts
- Ensure that you get enough sleep on your days-off
- Nap without fail before going to your night shift
- Limit caffeine consumption
- Get daylight exposure as much as possible for it promotes wakefulness
Besides this, shift workers have often prescribed medications like Modafinil that reduce extreme sleepiness due to narcolepsy. It also aids in obstructive sleep apnea.
Medications like Modvigil are also reliable for SWSD patients. They’re specifically formulated for shift workers to fight narcolepsy, SWSD, and obstructive sleep apnea. Modvigil is an antiepileptic drug that alerts the neurotransmitters in the brain to stay awake. Thus, workplace accidents don’t happen.
Similarly, Armodafinil and Waklert are contributing to the good health of SWSD patients. The ultimate goal of such medications is to promote wakefulness & keep the brain active when it is essential. So, when you’re done with the shifts, you know you’re tired and need some sleep now. This way, you’ll get the much-needed rest.
Living with shift work sleep disorder is neither easy nor normal. You don’t have to suffer just because you’re working in shifts. Go ahead & talk to a therapist, and take antiepileptic drugs under their guidance besides implementing necessary lifestyle changes. That’s how you’ll minimize narcolepsy effects & keep your sleep on track.