Shift Work Sleep Disorder

Authored by MCN Neurologists

Shift work sleep disorder occurs when you have difficulty adjusting to a work schedule that takes place during a time when most people sleep. Not everyone who does shift work has a disorder – this should be considered if you have difficulty falling asleep/staying asleep or feeling tired even after sleeping 7-8 hours despite being on a certain schedule for several weeks. You may have to be at work when your body wants to sleep and need to sleep when your body would prefer to be awake due to its natural circadian rhythm. Some people are more susceptible to this type of circadian rhythm disturbance and may have particular difficulty adjusting to specific types of shift schedules (i.e. overnight, early-morning, rotating). Shift workers often sleep less than the average worker and the quality of sleep may be worse. You may feel fatigued or exhausted, which can limit your performance at work and potentially place you at risk for mistakes on the job. A comprehensive Sleep Medicine evaluation, usually combined with a sleep diary assessment, is often helpful in excluding other contributing sleep disorders and providing management recommendations to improve both sleep quality and occupational performance.

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