People who work late night shifts, rotating shifts, early morning shifts, or over-time shifts are not able to get the full good quality sleep that their bodies need to rest and recuperate. The result? Fatigue, exhaustion, and even nausea for some. This condition has become so common these days that there is now a term for this – Shift Sork Sleep Disorder (SWSD)
What is Shift Work Sleep Disorder?
This refers to a circadian rhythm sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s job doesn’t allow him to get a normal sleep period. The work schedule requires the employee to show up during the hours that he should be at home sleeping. Because of that, the body is forced to sleep when it is needed to be awake for work. The timing, which is opposite to the internal body clock, can disrupt the body’s normal cycle, making a person feel sleepy in the morning and alert at different times of the day. The main contributor to this disorder is exposure to sunlight, which is the body’s natural clock.
What are the dangers of this condition?
The most common effect of shift work sleep disorder is exhaustion, which is rooted from the poor quality sleep. When you sleep during the wrong hours, your body will not feel refreshed upon waking up. It’s as if you didn’t sleep at all. This can further result in decline in productivity, loss of focus, and reduced level of alertness. It can even put you at risk of a work-related injury since you’re not functioning well.
People who work during unusual hours also find themselves wanting to make up for sleep. Instead of spending their free time with their family and friends, they catch up with sleep since they feel like they are tired all the time. Some people who are inflicted with this condition are also very moody and irritable. All these factors can have a negative effect on family relationship and social life.
Who can get this problem?
It’s important to note that not all people who work late night or early morning can get this condition. Only about 2 to 5 percent of the total population is affected with this condition. Obviously, most of those affected are those who work during unusual hours. People who have delayed sleep phase disorder are not likely to get this condition even if they work at late night shifts. These are people who claim to function better during nighttime.
How can this disorder be treated?
The following ways can help reduce the effects of late night or early morning shifts: reduce number of changes in shifts, change shifts forward instead of backward in time, rest regularly, and exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Sleeping in a completely dark room will also help a person get a good sleep even in the morning.