Shift Work Sleep Disorder (SWSD)

If you work outside of normal daytime hours such as evening shifts, night shifts, rotating shifts or swing shifts, you may be at greater risk for developing shift work sleep disorder (SWSD).

SWSD is a sleep disorder that disrupts the circadian rhythm of an individual.

Your circadian rhythm is often called a “body clock.” It is a cycle that lets our bodies know when to rise, sleep, and eat.

More than 15 million people in the United States work various types of shifts. Some are better able than others to adjust to working irregular hours, but for those that are unable to adjust, SWSD can become a major factor in lessening their quality of life.

Some symptoms of sleep shift disorder are:

  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Problems concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Increase risk of making mistakes and having accidents

SWSD can also have adverse effects on your health. Chronic sleep shift disorder can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, digestive issues and depression.

If you are a shift worker with irregular hours there are some treatment measures that can help:

  • Exercise Regularly
  • Keep a healthy diet
  • Keep your sleep area dark with black out drapes or use a sleep mask
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine at least three hours before bedtime
  • Put away digital devices. The light from your device can play tricks on your brain, making it think it is daylight
  • If possible, take a 10-20 min nap during your shift

If none of the above treatment options seem to help you adjust to your irregular work schedules, you might want to consider contacting a sleep clinic. Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s has a state-of-the-art Sleep Center. Call 718-206-5916 for more information or to make an appointment.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.