Shift work sleep disorder – The most overlooked disorder

Shift work sleep disorder and healthIt’s all hunky-dory doing shifts until a family member of yours start complaining frequently about his or her health problems. Not all know the health dangers of working in shifts and hence, shift work sleep disorder (SWSD) is most overlooked disorder. Shift work sleep disorder occurs when there is a conflict between your circadian rhythms and your work schedule. It’s a continuous struggle between your body and your work schedule. Your job demands you at work place whereas your body wants to sleep and when you want to rest; your body expects you to be awake. From there on the problem starts!

Working in shifts causes many health problems affecting your performance at work and restricting your personal and social life. That is once again unhealthy for your mental wellbeing as well. Having poorly-maintained relationships can cause great strain on people’s mental health.

Not everyone with shift work develop shift work sleep disorder. The problem mainly faced by those with who do frequently rotating shifts or overnight shifts. While night owls may adjust more easily to working in late night shifts than morning-persons and on the other hand, morning larks may be more comfortable doing early morning shifts. It all depend on the frequency and timing of the shifts as most people find difficulty adjusting to overnight or rotating shifts.

SWSD causes a good number of problems such as excessive sleepiness, constant fatigue, headaches and poor memory and concentration. If you work in shifts you’re at a greater risk of developing several chronic medical problems such as heart disease, obesity, high cholesterol levels, weak immune system making easy prey to frequent rounds of colds and the flu and breast and prostate cancer.

In addition, shift work sleep disorder greatly impacts your performance at work by having:

  • Repeated mistakes at work
  • Increased sick leaves
  • Occupational injuries and mishaps
  • Risks for automobile accidents
  • Substance abuse in order to stay awake
  • Increased use of alcohol to improve sleep
  • Increased frustration, irritation and may have misconduct at work

Due to odd shift timings, you may not be able to attend social events and hence, may have poor connectivity to loved ones, lacking bond with them. Eventually it can put strain on your relationships resulting in isolation, depression and anxiety. Thus, SWSD can drench your mental energy, positivity, and almost everything. Hence, if you find any of these symptoms in you, you should not avoid rather seek medical help.

Today we are bound to our work for 24/7 and we have become more customer-centric than business-minded. However, one cannot take his or her own health for granted at the cost of sacrificing physical health and mental peace. Working in shifts has become our work culture and one cannot avoid it completely, but can take proper precautions in order to work efficiently. Approach your family doctor for the right diagnosis and treatment as SWSD can be treated and you can still manage to work in shifts!

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