Sleep issues caused by working long or irregular hours are known as shift work sleep disorder. Any work schedule outside of the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. is referred to as “shift work.” Employees who work night, early morning, or rotational shifts are more likely to develop symptoms. Shift work disorder, if left untreated, can lead to serious health problems. The worker’s professional performance may be harmed as a result of the condition, and they may be more likely to make an error or be engaged in a workplace accident. It is critical to recognize shift work disorder symptoms and seek treatment for the patient’s health, well-being, and safety.
Symptoms of SWSD
When shift employees start working irregular hours, they often have trouble sleeping. To be diagnosed with a shift work condition, a worker must have recurring symptoms for at least three months and show altered sleep-wake cycles for at least two weeks using actigraphy and sleep tracking. Additional tests may be ordered by doctors to check that the symptoms are not caused by another illness or condition.
Insomnia: People who suffer from shift work disorder frequently have trouble getting asleep and staying asleep. Insomnia symptoms vary a lot depending on the nature of the shift. Workers who start work between 4 and 7 a.m., for example, have a hard time falling asleep, whereas those who work evening hours wake up frequently throughout the night. Shift workers lose one to four hours of sleep per night on average.
Excessive sleepiness: When a person works during the night or early morning hours, shift work disorder can induce drowsiness and decreased alertness. At least once during their shift, they often feel the desire to take a nap. These issues can reduce their ability to perform and put them in danger.
Diseases: People who suffer from shift work disorder are more likely to get diseases like cancer, cardiovascular illness, and gastrointestinal problems.
Poor mental health and social functioning: Irregular work shifts create disturbances in their mental health. Such workers may suffer from irritability, severe mood swings and anxiety attacks. They also have problems in social functioning as their routine drastically differs from the people who have normal work timings.
Alcohol and drug dependency: People who suffer from SWSD self-medicate with alcohol or drugs to improve their sleep quality. They go in search of such things to compensate for their lack of sleep.
Imbalanced diet: The imbalances in the diet is another consequence of SWSD. Because of the irregular work timings, such employees may either eat excessively or they lose appetite.
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