What is Shift Work Sleep Disorder?
Shift work sleep disorder is considered a circadian rhythm sleep disorder. This disorder usually occurs in those who work during normal sleeping hours. Most individuals with this disorder work outside of the typical 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours. This disorder affects men and women equally.
Circadian rhythms function as your body’s internal clock and cause you to feel sleepy when your body needs rest. These rhythms tell your body which times of the day to sleep and when to be awake. Exposure to sunlight helps “set” your internal clock.
Symptoms of Shift Work Sleep Disorder:
- Inability to concentrate
- Increased difficulty maintaining personal relationships
- Depression and irritability
- Inability to sleep or disrupted sleep
- Poor quality of sleep
Treatment Options for Shift Work Sleep Disorder:
- Changing shifts less frequently
- Moving shifts forward rather than backward
- Giving employees exercise breaks and breaks to rest
- Using bright lights to mimic sunlight
Tests to Help Diagnose Shift Work Sleep Disorder:
Typically, your physician will thoroughly review your history including your work schedule, and ask you to complete a sleep diary, to record your sleep patterns. This may be all that is required to make the diagnosis. However, your physician may suspect other sleep disorders are complicating your symptoms. If this is the case, he or she may request the following tests:
-This type of study, measures your activity level over a period of time. A small unit is worn on your wrist like a watch and measures movement throughout the day and night to better identify sleeping patterns.
- Overnight Sleep Study
-This type of study, also referred to as a polysomnogram, studies your brainwaves, breathing oxygen level, and heartbeat while you are asleep. It also documents the frequency of arm or leg movements.
- Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT)
-This type of study monitors brain waves over the course of four naps during daytime hours. The test measures how quickly you fall asleep and what type of sleep you are in as you sleep.