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The Night Shift: What to be Aware of and How to Sleep Better

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We all know someone in our lives who works or has shift worked shift work.

A mom, a dad, a nurse, a fireman, a police officer, a student or a factory worker.

And with an estimated three per cent of the workforce working while most people are in bed, there can often be negative consequences to that way of life if workers don’t get enough sleep. It’s estimated that there are 400 deaths a year caused by shift workers driving while drowsy.

Shift Work Disorder

People are meant to be awake during the day – when it’s light out – and asleep at night – when it’s dark out. When we break the pattern that Mother Nature has sewn into our DNA, there can sometimes be problems.

Shift Work Disorder is one of those problems that can arise if you are not able to get enough sleep, aka, the six-to-eight hours that physicians recommend. By not getting enough sleep, your body starts to lose focus and function while awake. In other words, you basically become a zombie, minus the eating brains and being dead part.

Now not every single person who works shift work will get Shift Work Disorder, but it is something to be aware of if you work shift work, or know someone who does.

Signs You Might have Shift Work Disorder

  • You’re always tired when you should be awake, alert and productive – ie, excessive sleepiness
  • You have troubles sleeping when you need to be sleeping, often during daytime hours – struggles can range from insomnia to troubles getting a deep sleep
  • You awake unrefreshed when you get up – like you never really slept at all
  • You struggle to maintain concentration during tasks – these can range from simple tasks like reading to more difficult tasks like driving
  • You have little energy for anything – always feeling fatigued
  • You are irritable when you’re around people or you feel depressed
  • Your relationships have a lot of tension in them – difficulty getting along with people

Tips for sleeping during the day

Light Therapy– Make sure when you wake up you are near light and have it around you while you’re awake. As you start to get ready to sleep, move to dimly lit areas, or wear dark glasses to train your brain into thinking it is nighttime.

Work on a Schedule The human body is an amazing thing. If you teach it to sleep during certain times, it will generally go to sleep when you want it to.

Sleep When You Can– Taking naps on your break is a great way to re-charge if you aren’t getting enough sleep at home. Every worker generally gets an hour of breaks in a shift. Use that hour to catch up on some sleep.

Quiet time– When you head to sleep, make sure your bedroom is a quiet environment. Earplugs can help with this, just make sure you can still hear the alarm.

If you’d like to speak with one of sleep experts about how you can get more sleep during the day or you have concerns over the impact shift work is having on your life, please contact Cheyenne at cheyenne.mckeel@peakpulmonary.com or visit our website at www.peaksleepclinic.com

Wait time for an appointment is generally less than a week.