Shift work sleep disorder is a condition that often affects people who work non-traditional hours. Fields such as healthcare, law enforcement, hospitality and retail all involve shift work schedules. Jacksonville sleep specialist Dr. Nassar explains more about this increasingly common sleep disorder.

Shift Work Disorder

Shift work disorder is a disorder of the circadian rhythm that can be characterized by insomnia and excessive sleepiness. The schedule of a shift worker usually conflicts with the circadian rhythm, which is essentially the internal body clock. Adjusting to this type of schedule can be very difficult. You must be up and alert when you want to sleep, and need to sleep when you’re used to being awake.

Symptoms Include:

  • Excessive sleepiness when you need to be awake
  • Struggling with insomnia
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Waking before you’re fully rested
  • Not feeling refreshed after sleep
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low energy
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Relationship problems
  • Work performance issues

While a majority of shift workers will experience some of the above sleep issues, shift work disorder is a chronic problem. It causes continuing symptoms that begin to interfere with your daily life. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms regularly, consult with a Jacksonville sleep specialist.

Who is at Risk?

Night shifts, early morning shifts and rotating shifts can all contribute to shift work sleep disorder. Not all shift workers have this condition, however. Some people, such as night owls, have an easier time adapting to an unconventional schedule. It’s estimated that anywhere from 10% to 40% of shift workers suffer from this sleep disorder. The symptoms tend to last for as long as the shift work schedule is continued. And for most people, symptoms go away when they’re no longer on such a schedule.

Consequences of Shift Work Disorder

The health consequences of shift work can be far-reaching, so it’s important to speak with a Jacksonville sleep specialist if you’re experiencing symptoms. People with shift work disorder generally sleep several fewer hours than normal and constantly feel fatigued and exhausted. This constant, excessive sleepiness begins to negatively impact their quality of life. People may find that their work performance suffers, social life changes, relationships suffer and their health declines.

Shift work and shift work disorder can also cause more alarming saftely and health issues. The chance of car accidents and workplace accidents and errors are greatly increased. There’s also serious risks to overall health and well-being. Drug and alcohol dependency are more likely in shift workers. And some studies have shown an increased risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cognitive impairment.

Jacksonville Sleep Specialist

For certain professionals such as nurses, doctors and retail workers, shift work is a part of life. If you’re a shift worker struggling with symptoms such as excessive sleepiness and low energy, contact the sleep specialists at Jacksonville Sleep Center. Dr. Nassar and his team will tell you if you’re suffering from shift work disorder and help you find ways to treat your symptoms. Call us today at (904) 854-6899 to schedule an appointment.