Understanding Sleep Disorder related to Shift Work

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We know that sleep is important.  The need for sleep is biologically similar to the need to eat and drink, and it is critical for maintaining life and health and for working safely.  Sleeping 7 to 8 hours a night is linked with a wide range of better health and safety outcomes.A sleep disorder is a medical disorder of the sleep patterns of a person or animal. Some sleep disorders are serious enough to interfere with normal physical, mental, social and emotional functioning.

One of Sleep disorders is Insomnia.

Insomnia is the inability to get the amount of sleep you need to wake up (7-8 hours) feeling rested and refreshed, is the most common sleep complaint. Insomnia is often a symptom of another problem, such as stress, anxiety, depression, or an underlying health condition. It can also be caused by lifestyle choices, including the medications you take, lack of exercise, jet lag, or even the amount of coffee you drink.

Common signs and symptoms of insomnia include :

  • Difficulty falling asleep at night or getting back to sleep after waking during the night.
  • Waking up frequently during the night.
  • Your sleep feels light, fragmented, or exhausting.
  • You need to take something (sleeping pills, nightcap, supplements) in order to get to sleep.
  • Sleepiness and low energy during the day.

Individuals who obtained fewer than 5 hours of sleep on a regular basis (vs 7 hours) :
* 42% more likely to be obese,
*  40% more likely to have diabetes
*  69% more likely to have hypertension
*  36% more likely to have high cholesterol
*  62% more likely to have had a stroke
* 152% more likely to have experienced a heart attack

Circadian Rhythms 

We all have an internal biological clock that regulates our 24-hour sleep-wake cycle, also known as our circadian rhythms. Light is the primary cue that influences circadian rhythms. When the sun comes up in the morning, the brain tells the body that it’s time to wake up. At night, when there is less light, your brain triggers the release of melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleepy.

Shift Work Sleep Disorder :

jay-tidurShift work sleep disorder occurs when your work schedule and your biological clock are out of sync. In our 24-hour society, many workers have to work night shifts, early morning shifts, or rotating shifts. These schedules force you to work when your body is telling you to go to sleep, and sleep when your body is signaling you to wake.

Working on the night shift from the research showed the increasing of the risk injury to workers  will also disrupt the normal circadian rhythm that will reduce immunity and lowers melatonin production.

Risk for workers :

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Lack of adequate time to recover from work
  • Decline in mental function and physical ability, including emotional fatigue and a decline in the function of the body’s immune system
  • Higher rates of depression, occupational injury, and poor perceived health
  • Higher prevalence of insomnia among shift workers with low social support
  • Increased risk of illness and injury.
  • Strain on personal relationships, such as marriage and family life.
  • Increased risk of long-term health effects, such as heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders, mood disturbances, and cancer.

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