What is Shift Work Sleep Disorder (SWSD)? And how to cope with it?

What is Shift Work Sleep Disorder (SWSD)? And how to cope with it?


You could be working for a multinational company that caters to different time zone than that of yours or you could be a medical professional on a night shift.  These kinds of job with different time zones or non-traditional work hours have one major problem – SLEEP!

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The employees do get sleep and rest, but mostly is found to be irregular and disturbed. In the recent past, this issue was taken up due to an increase in problems arising from non-traditional work hours.  

Shift Work Sleep Disorder (SWSD) was the term created and is now used for individuals suffering from excessive sleep, insufficient sleep, drowsiness and other problems related to the heart due to non-traditional work hours.

Our bodies are tuned to something called the ‘biological clock’ or circadian rhythm which alerts our body to wake up in the morning and also signals our brain to stimulate sleep at Dusk. When this biological clock clashes with your work clock, it is likely that you will be affected with Shift Work Sleep Disorder.

ALSO READ: Why do women need more sleep than men?


The  ‘circadian rhythm’ or the ‘biological clock’ can have frustrating symptoms when it’s been thrown off since it affects:

●   Sleepiness

●   Alertness

●   Body temperature

●   Hormone levels

●   Hunger

Here are the signs that you can consider to check if you have shift work sleep disorder.

SWSD is a chronic, or long-term, condition. The symptoms often impact your everyday life. You may experience many of the following symptoms:

●       Excessive sleepiness, both on and off the job

●       Difficulty concentrating

●       Lack of energy

●       Insomnia that prevents you from getting adequate sleep

●       Sleep that feels incomplete or not refreshing

●       Depression or moodiness

●       Accidents and work-related errors

●       Irritability or mood problems

●       Poor coping skills and impaired social functioning

●       Health-related complaints — including gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and metabolic

        problems

●       Drug and alcohol dependency.


These are the struggles that individuals may experience and there are ways that you can follow that will help you decrease the likelihood of suffering from extreme conditions of the Shift Work Sleep Disorder and also revive yourself of some good sleep.

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There will have to be lifestyle changes in order to lead that healthy balanced life, such as:

  • Try to keep a regular sleep schedule, including on days off.
  • If possible, take 48 hours off after a series of shifts.
  • Wear sunglasses when leaving work to minimize sun exposure. Doing so can help prevent the “daytime” clock from activating.
  • Take naps when possible.
  • Limit caffeine intake four hours before bedtime.
  • Maintain a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
  • Use heavy shades for sleeping to create a dark environment.
  • Ask family and other live-in companions to reduce noise by using headphones to watch television or listen to music. Ask them to avoid household chores until you’re awake.
  • Avoid a long commute if you can. It can cut into your sleeping hours and cause further drowsiness.
  • Keep nightly rituals before bed, even during the daytime.
  • Wear earplugs or use white noise to drown out sound while you sleep.
  • Take a 30- to 60-minute nap right before your shift.

With the rise in non-traditional work hours across sectors, taking preventive measures by following healthy lifestyles and deliberately taking efforts to make sure you get sleep is crucial. Following these small steps will help your body cope with SWSD as well as increase productivity.

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Keran

Guestblogger

Keran Job is a budding Developmental Psychologist who has finished her masters from the prestigious Lancaster University, U.K., with her research in social and communication skills with autistic adults. She has worked alongside in special schools and children with special needs. Having finished her psychological counselling diploma with training in special trauma counseling with CCC and CMC, Vellore, she believes that there is always a way out to mental ailments and the first step to betterment is by accepting it.

Keran

Keran Job is a budding Developmental Psychologist who has finished her masters from the prestigious Lancaster University, U.K., with her research in social and communication skills with autistic adults. She has worked alongside in special schools and children with special needs. Having finished her psychological counselling diploma with training in special trauma counseling with CCC and CMC, Vellore, she believes that there is always a way out to mental ailments and the first step to betterment is by accepting it.

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