By Kim Wetmore
Have you ever heard of shift work disorder? It is similar to jet lag, if you have ever been to a place in another time zone. If you go far enough away from your current time zone and it is day when your body expects it to be night, you may find yourself with difficulty keeping awake. As well, when it is night, but your body expects it to be day, you will have a hard time sleeping. It is just the same with shift work disorder. When you have shift work disorder, there is a conflict between your body’s circadian rhythms and your work schedule. You may have to be at work when your body wants to sleep. Then when you have to sleep, you body expects to be awake.
I read about a study reported in sleepeducation.com where 31 shift workers and 10 daytime workers were compared in regards to their sleep. In the study, the members of both groups had been diagnosed with sleep apnea, were close in age, slept generally about the same amount of time, and were alike in weight.
After both daytime and nighttime polysomnographs (sleep studies) were done on the two groups, it was clear that those in the shift worker group presented with lower oxygen saturation and more frequent pauses in breathing. This translates to more severe sleep apnea symptoms for the shift workers.
In dealing with sleep apnea, it is also very possible to suffer with hypertension, diabetes, dementia and heart disease. Those who work one of those off shifts who experiences excessive daytime sleepiness, cognitive and memory problems, or irritability may want to either consider changing to another shift if it is possible, or speak with a doctor who can help improve your sleep with various options, including sleep testing.