Avoid the Night Terrors of Shift Work Disorder

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Do you work the graveyard shift? If you do, your health may be compromised. Over 15 million Americans work a job with late-night or early-morning hours, which leaves workers vulnerable to shift work disorder (SWD). SWD is hard to diagnose and treat, but the associated sleep deprivation and insomnia can be debilitating.
A recent study published in the Journal of American Physiology by researchers from the University of Toronto discovered another serious health risk posed by SWD — a higher risk for organ disease. With the side effects of SWD only expanding, workers must find ways to manage the bodily stress.
Shift work disrupts the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, called circadian rhythm, which affects other critical factors like body temperature and the way organs function.
“We knew that circadian rhythm disruption had been linked with reduced longevity, so we decided to try and find out where, why and how longevity is compromised,” explains psychology professor Martin Ralph from the University of Toronto, one of the lead researchers from the study on shift work.
Shift work is the opposite of 9-5, and demand for it is only increasing as customers expect more 24-hour services. Many occupations require permanent or occasional shift work, such as healthcare professionals, hospitality and restaurant staff, production and manufacturing workers, protective and emergency services and the transportation industry.
These workers suffer from the continual disturbance of their biological or circadian clocks. As the new study supports, long-term interference of this nature can lead to kidney or heart disease.
People suffering with SWD can also have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). It is a condition marked by loud snoring, pauses in breathing and gasping. The repeated arousals contribute to the disruption of sleep. Like SWD, it can contribute to excessive daytime sleepiness, diabetes and heart disease. Unlike SWD, it is easy to diagnose and effectively treat.
Another tip is to create an ideal sleep environment — eliminate extra noise and light to get the most out of your irregular sleep schedule. Try and stick to the same sleep and wake time, even on weekends. Don’t hesitate to seek medical help.
To find more information and advice on sleep disorders, go to www.sleepapnea.org.

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