Shift Work Disorder
When a worker has constantly rotating shifts, or if he works night shifts for extended periods, he can experience Shift Work Disorder. Some people are more predisposed to this condition than others depending on their ability to adjust to night work, mental illness, family environment and age.
Symptoms of SWD are heavy sleepiness and insomnia. The employee can be very sleepy on the job, and experience difficulty falling asleep off the job especially when these sleep and wake hours contrast with the bodys natural circadian cycle. The body has an internal clock and this clock is set to sleep between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. and generally coincides with light and darkness outside. Over time, the insomnia and hormone disruption will lead to foggy thinking, stress, memory and attention issues, on the job errors, and decreased coordination. Health can become affected in the areas of heart disease, weight control, cancer, depression and anxiety.
Remedies of shift work sleep disorder might include sleep studies, medication, and lifestyle changes. Insomnia may be dealt with by limiting exposure to light, alcohol and caffeine just before bed. Drowsiness on the job may be dealt with by taking short naps on breaks, drinking caffeine and using bright lights. Limiting work hours to less than 48-60 per week and less than 13 for a day might help as well as keeping a regular sleep/awake schedule even on days off. A person should be getting 7 hours sleep every day to remain healthy. Unfortunately, night shift workers usually have below average hours of sleep.
Sleep deprivation can be cumulative and can lead to serious consequences such as drowsy driving and life threatening mistakes. A person who thinks that they have SWSD - Shift Work Sleep Disorder, should see a doctor.