Safety Tips Wellness

Do you have shift work sleep disorder?


Maybe you played games on your phone or tablet late into the night, or, as midnight approached, couldn’t help but watch one more episode of your favorite show. Whatever the case, many people head into work tired. But for some shift workers – people who perform their jobs outside the traditional 9-to-5 time frame – excessive fatigue at work may indicate something more serious.

About 20 percent of the U.S. workforce performs some form of shift work, according to the Cleveland Clinic, which notes that shift work goes against the body’s natural circadian rhythm (sometimes called the “body clock”). This can lead to problems in a person’s sleep and wake schedules. Some shift workers develop shift work sleep disorder, consisting of “a constant or recurrent pattern of sleep interruption that results in difficulty sleeping or excessive sleepiness.” The disorder affects those who frequently rotate shifts or work at night. Other symptoms related to shift work sleep disorder include headaches, lack of energy and difficulty concentrating.

What to do

Shift work sleep disorder isn’t something to take lightly, and its symptoms can have serious consequences. The Cleveland Clinic notes that shift work sleep disorder can result in increased workplace incidents, errors and sick leave, as well as heightened levels of moodiness and irritability. The clinic offers tips to help combat issues related to shift work sleep disorder:

  • Make sleeping a priority – strive to get at least 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep every night.
  • Talk to your family about the importance of keeping your home quiet while you sleep, and consider placing a “do not disturb” sign on your front door.
  • Keep your bedroom dark and cool.
  • Maintain a sleep diary, which can help pinpoint when sleep problems occur.
  • Don’t rely on caffeine to keep you awake.
  • Avoid working extended shifts or excessive overtime. Allow yourself plenty of time to sleep and participate in social activities.

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)