If you work at night or know someone who does, you may find that you’re experiencing or witnessing Shift Work Sleep Disorder (SWSD).

What is SWSD, and how could it be affecting me?

Shift Work Sleep Disorder, or SWSD, is common in those who work non-traditional or night shifts (12-hour shifts and 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. shifts, for example). But not every shift worker suffers from this disorder.

Normally, our internal body clocks don’t work well with shift work schedules. When you have to work odd hours, you may experience difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Excessive sleepiness is also a primary symptom of SWSD.

Other symptoms include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Poor coping skills
  • Impaired social abilities

If any of these symptoms sound familiar, you may be experiencing SWSD.

Health risks associated with SWSD

As a result of SWSD, some individuals have an increased number of accidents or fall asleep on the job, and some fall asleep during their daily commute.

Other risks are:

  • Increase in sick-leave
  • Mood disorders
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Heart disease
  • Work-related mistakes
  • Depression

Preventing SWSD

Consider the following tips if you are working odd hours or expect to transition into a shift work schedule in the future!

Tip #1: Keep a sleep journal so you can log how much rest you’re actually getting every day.

Tip #2: Limit caffeine and alcohol, getting natural and adequate sleep on your off-days.

Tip #3: Get adequate light exposure each day, whether by being outside or by using a light lamp. This has been known to improve mood and alertness.

A message from Dr. Amy Hartsfield:

At TMJ & Sleep Solutions of Alabama, our mission is to provide personalized care to restore quality of life, one patient at a time. If you are experiencing issues with sleep, don’t hesitate to contact us and schedule an appointment!