Bad habits breed many of our sleep problems. — Lauren Woolley, PhD
People who have difficulty falling asleep, or remaining asleep for an extended period and as their bodies require may be suffering from shift work sleep disorder. Shift work sleep disorder can be similar to insomnia. The former is directly connected to a person’s employment schedule, while many sources cause the latter. In reality, it is more likely to have difficulty with one’s shift schedule.
Did you have a good night’s sleep during those times wherein you didn’t work night shifts? Since your started working graveyard, did you have difficulty sleeping during the day, and usually end up not sleeping, or chronically lack sleep? If you answered yes to both questions, then, it’s a sure sign that your night shifts cause your sleep issues.
Shift Work Sleep Disorder: Medical Treatments
If you have already tried the non-medical options (example; good sleeping habits, adjusting your sleep setting and schedule, and doing relaxation methods) and yet, symptoms persist, then, your doctor may suggest some medications.
Below are medications that could help you stay awake at work so that you could sleep during the day, which is what you need the most right now.
Alertness: Some prescriptions work by switching on the system that keeps your brain alerts, such as Armodafinil and Modafinil.
Sleeping: Sleep aids, such as, benzodiazepines, non-benzodiazepine hypnotics, and certain antidepressants to momentarily help a shift worker who needs to sleep during odd hours.
Ask your doctor which one suits you best, and if you have doubts, ask for the side effects of these medications on you.
Shift Work Disorder: Non-Medical Treatments
In addition to non-medical options mentioned above, these options help improve job alertness and regulate your sleep.
A person’s body produces melatonin. It is a natural chemical that makes a person tired. The melatonin level changes throughout the day and night. If at night, you are exposed to light, it disrupts the natural melatonin production, which can result in disturbed sleep and many health-related problems. If you need to alter to an odd schedule, consuming melatonin may help “reset” your body clock.
For your body clock, light is a powerful indicator. It affects your wake/sleep pattern with its alerting effect and gradually shifting your sleep pattern depending on the schedule of light exposure. This help establishes a healthier sleep or wake pattern based on your needs. This is prescribed as a way to help you change your sleep patterns to improve work alertness and productivity, but the extent of light therapy and timing should be appropriately determined.
This is a good source of alertness and productivity during shift. It has been found that caffeine even as low as 200mg improve attentiveness for those who like to be awake during the night. Caffeine consumption after a nap is beneficial, and it remains in your system for hours, so make sure to minimize caffeine intake as your shift ends.
A person needs to sleep at least seven hours each day, straight and nonstop. This is the time when our bodies are recuperating, and sleep restores the balance. If you are not sleeping right because of your shift at work, then, you will have to find a way to sleep during the day without disruption. As to how you will do that, if you are having problems, ask help from a medical professional.