We’re all tethered to the office with our smart stupid phones these days – but shift workers have it even worse. A shift worker performs their entire job outside of the “normal” business hours of 9 to 5 – rather than just being available via email or phone. Shift work has become an increasingly more common to accommodate the demands of 24-7 society. While these odd-hour jobs help increase productivity for companies, it’s at the cost of the workers’ sleep patterns and overall health.
Obviously this isn’t good…
Humans are hard-wired to sleep by our exposure – or lack of exposure – to sunlight. Our internal clock hums along smoothly until we try to force it to change, as in the case of shiftwork. In most adults, circadian rhythms cause your level of sleepiness to peak from about midnight to 7 am – as the sun begins to sink in the sky, so does our energy. But because shift workers gear up at night, they spend their wake-times feeling sleep-deprived and sluggish. Not only is it challenging to stay awake while everyone else is sleeping, it’s hard to fall asleep when the sun is rising in the sky. On average, shift workers sleep 2 to 4 hours less than everyone else. Read more at SleepCenter.ucla.edu
According to the International Classifications of Sleep Disorders, shift work sleep disorder is a circadian rhythm sleep disorder. Circadian rhythm refers to the 24 hour rhythmic output of the human biological clock. The main complaint for people with shift work sleep disorder is excessive sleepiness. Other symptoms include insomnia, disrupted sleep schedules, reduced performance, difficulties with personal relationships and irritability/depressed mood. Read more at SleepFoundation.org
Here are some tips for coping with shift work:
Sadly, shiftwork isn’t going anywhere. The effects of sleep deprivation, while not avoidable, can be reduced with some careful planning. Maintaining a semi-normal sleep schedule, eating healthy and exercising when possible can help you cope with the effects. Good luck!
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