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Shift Work and Sleep Disorder

Posted Apr 20 2010 5:40pm

body clock and teens

I had another email this week from a sleep deprived shift worker. Shift work sleep disorder  is a difficult problem to resolve. The difficulty arises because shift workers tend to revert  to daytime hours when off duty. This means of they are bound to develop shift work sleep disorder since they never fully adapt to being awake during the night time.

 The only possible way to adapt to working nights is to keep to the same hours when you are not at work. But of course shift workers want  stay awake in the daytime whenever they can so that they can have a normal social life. If they do this they will develop shift work sleep disorder. Its like being stuck between a rock and a hard place!

I can’ t find anything very helpful on this topic.  This is the most recent addvice from the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).

 If at all possible take naps during the night shift. If you employer doesn’t like this you may be able to nap during your meal breaks.  If you can’t nap during a meal break do the opposite and take some exercise instead.

Talk to your boss or union representative about allowing naps during the shift. This has been shown to reduce fatigue-related accidents and injuries which is in the employer’s interest to do. Your employer may be liable for such accidents if naps are not allowed.

 Once you are finsihed with work try not to expose yourself to daylight. Wear sunglasses if you have to be be outside on the way home.

 Other than that normal sleep hygiene   is important:

  • Keep to the same bed and rising times on days off
  • Do not take caffeinated beverages such as tea, coffee and colas in the last 4 hours before bedtime
  • Ensure that you have a quiet darkened room to sleep in or use a sleeping mask
  • Don’t go to bed after eating a heavy meal
  • Don’t use nicotine

Perhaps another solution might be to use something to help you to get off to sleep. Consider using a self hypnosis audio or try the sleep Sound Sound audio which uses brainwave entrainment to help you get to sleep. Using sleeping pills though is not recommened as a long term solution to shift work sleep disorder.

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