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What Is Shift Work Sleep Disorder? Definition, Symptoms, & Treatment

Shift work sleep disorder (SWSD) is a condition synonymous with people who work outside the common 9 am to 5 pm work schedule. These people usually work night shifts or even alternating day and night shifts. Consequently, this leads to a sleep disorder because the work shifts do not match with most workers’ circadian rhythms or internal body clocks. The disorder often poses challenges while trying to cope with different sleep hours, which in turn leads to difficulties with regards to falling asleep, sleeping at the right time and staying asleep. It is therefore important to address ways to treat this disorder given that close to 20 percent of the American workers are affected by this condition.

Effects and symptoms of shift work sleep disorder

Father Feeling Depressed At Baby's Mealtime

SWSD has far-reaching consequences on the lives of those affected. For instance, most people who work at night say that they feel isolated from their loved ones and friends. They also have challenges exercising regularly or even eating healthy meals. The symptoms are classified as short-term and long-term health effects. Feelings of insomnia, stomach upset, nausea, constipation, stress, increased work-related accidents and decline in overall health are some of the short-term symptoms. On the other hand, long-term effects include obesity, fertility problems, depression, higher risk of heart disease and diabetes. Some of these symptoms may lead to drug abuse and poor coping skills.

Health experts are of the view that all these effects are as a result of the decline in the body’s capacity to excrete melatonin. The hormone Melatonin is responsible for the regulation of sleep and waking cycles and the circadian rhythms. The hormone also boosts the body’s immune system, which explains why people with SWSD have health problems.

Treatments for shift work sleep disorder

One of the common treatment for this disorder is the bright light therapy. This is a technique whereby the patient is exposed to a special artificial light at given times to assist the patient’s body clock to cope with new time zone. Also, a physician can prescribe a sleeping pill to help enhance the patient’s quality of sleep. Sleeping pills are effective in the short-term but could be counterproductive in the long-term due to the effect of over-dependence.

Equally, a patient can use melatonin supplements and other medications such as modafinil and armodafinil. Melatonin enhances sleep whereas modafinil and armodafinil enhance alertness, thus helping people remain focused and productive while working. These two are recommended for persons who have made changes to their sleep schedules but still need to remain alert at work. The good news is that once your doctor prescribes these medications for you, you can easily find them on the modafinil online pharmacy.

There are also non-medical approaches for treating this disorder. In this respect, doctors recommend that those affected should adopt a workout regime coupled with a healthy diet. Additionally, ensuring that you get enough sleep will go a long way in improving your health. This is because lack of enough sleep is associated with many health problems. Above all, try to maintain a regular sleep pattern so that your body knows when it is time to sleep and when to be awake.

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