Sleep apnoea is a condition exhibited by lack of sleep or irregular sleep patterns due to disruption of the circadian cycle and abnormal breathing. The condition affects many miners and other shift workers because their work schedules disrupt their natural sleep patterns. Lack of sleep puts miners and shift workers at greater risks of developing various health complications and cause accidents due to reduced concentration.
Many mineworkers have a difficult time adjusting to their sleep schedules because their working hours interferes with their circadian rhythms. People who work in non-traditional work hours are at greater risk of developing sleep apnoea, so are those who wake up very early in the morning to go to work.
The two major symptoms of sleep apnoea are insomnia or excessive sleepiness. Other symptoms include headaches, difficulty concentrating and loss of energy.
Some of the most notable side effects of sleep apnoea include mood swings, irritability, work mistakes and stress. The effects of sleep disruption wear down the health of mine and shift workers. This puts them at risk of developing health complications like high cholesterol, obesity and heart diseases. Those who suffer from severe loss of concentration or sleepiness can cause on-the-job accidents.
Doctors can check if workers are suffering from sleep apnoea with an actigraph. This is a sensor worn on the wrist like a watch. The device collects information about sleep patterns and circadian rhythms.
How to Cope With Sleep Apnoea
Shift and mine workers frequently suffer from various ailments including gastrointestinal and digestive conditions such as stomach aches, heartburn, indigestion, reduced appetite and ulcers among others. These conditions are the results of irregular eating habits, junk foods and frequent snacking and use of caffeine to stay awake while working.
To cope with such conditions, workers should aim at respecting regular meal times as much as they can. Meal times are very important. For instance, mineworkers should eat lightly during the night shifts and enjoy a good breakfast in the morning. Afternoon miners should have their main meal at midday.
The goal of such meal timing is to avoid hunger pangs during sleep times. Shift workers should aim at eating healthy foods; avoid sugary foods and diets with fatty foods. In addition, they should avoid using antacids and give the body time to digest food by not rushing through meals. Most important, do not indulge in smoking or drinking caffeinated drinks.
One of the biggest challenges for shift workers and miners is maintaining a healthy sleep pattern. Shift workers should try to maintain a regular sleep schedule. The sleep schedule should be maintained even when they are off work or on weekends.
Workers should use adequate lighting while working and wear sunglasses while going home after work to induce sleep and prepare their bodies for rest. However, once at home, do not go to bed immediately. After working all night, the deepest sleep a night shift worker will experience will be on their first few hours of sleep. Therefore, because many households are loud and busy in the morning when workers get home from work, it is not advisable to go to bed immediately.
Switch off electronics to create a conducive atmosphere for slumber. Consider installing blockout blinds, which can be ordered from places like express Essex Blinds as they can make a marked difference and launch your bedroom into a pitch black environment. Try using sleep masks or earplugs to block out light and noise respectively when sleeping. Take a nap during the day and exercise before work to boost energy levels.
Family and Social Life
Create time to spend with the family to ensure it enjoys close and happy relationships. Enjoy at least one healthy meal with family members each day for this reason. Stay in contact with family members while on breaks at work by calling or chatting over the phone.
Plan to spend free weekends with family members, girlfriend or boyfriend. Shift and mine workers should schedule how they will spend their free time so that they do not waste the opportunity to connect. Communication can be a challenge if there is conflict with sleep schedules. Be creative on time allocation and stay in touch with family members.
Buy a notebook for writing notes about upcoming family events such as when the repairman will come, when bills should be paid, when kids sign up for baseball among other events.
Mine and shift workers face increased risks of developing various health complications. They are more likely to develop sleep apnoea, daytime drowsiness and sleeping at the wheel. One of the strategies used to deal with this problem is for workers to live as close to work as possible to reduce commute time.
Another solution is to use public transportation or buy a car to facilitate transportation. Mine and shift workers are likely to use alcohol, tobacco and other drugs to deal with the effects of sleep apnoea. Initially, alcohol may seem to help but it will disrupt sleep with time. Using other drugs even over the counter drugs to boost energy levels and alertness is detrimental to health.