Shift Work Disorder

Diagnosis & Treatment in Albuquerque, New Mexico

There are many industries that require workers to operate around the clock. While some people can adjust to working during hours they are normally asleep and sleeping during hours they are normally awake, others cannot. If your shift or changing shifts is causing loss of sleep and excessive sleepiness, you may have shift work disorder.

Understanding Shift Work Disorder

Shift work disorder is caused because of a conflict between your work schedule and your body’s normal circadian rhythm, which is more or less matched to the sun. Exposure to light (particularly full-spectrum or sunlight) signals the brain to stop making melatonin, your body’s natural sleep chemical. When light exposure diminishes, your body ramps up melatonin release to help you feel sleepy.

When you work “off” shifts, less exposure to natural light and/or exposure right before you need to sleep causes your body to produce too much melatonin or not enough when it is needed.

Symptoms of Shift Work Disorder

Shift work disorder symptoms and risks include:

  • Excessive sleepiness (during nearly any time you are awake)
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Moodiness and/or irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Diminished performance at work
  • Weight gain
  • Gastro-intestinal disorders
  • Cancer

The cumulative effects of lost sleep increase your risk for infections, depression, anxiety and other health conditions. Shift work disorder can impact your home and family life as well as increase your risk for workplace accidents and drowsy driving.

Treatment for Shift Work Disorder

At-home strategies to address shift work disorder include:

  • Creating an environment conducive to sleep during the day
  • Maintaining your shift schedule even during off days
  • Gradually modifying your sleep schedule in preparation for a new shift time
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Taking short naps during long night shifts

Other strategies may require consultation from a sleep specialist, such as:

  • Melatonin supplementation
  • Timed light exposure

The use of all sleep aids should be monitored to ensure they do not conflict with other medications and are not used beyond their recommended or prescribed period.

Help for Shift Work Disorder in Albuquerque

If you are suffering from a lack of sleep caused by night shifts and/or fluctuating shift schedules, contact Neurology & Sleep Medicine. Dr. Senthil Ramasamy, board-certified sleep specialist, leads patient care. He takes the time to understand your shift work challenges and lifestyle to find the treatment that will best restore the quality and quantity of your sleep.

Contact us to schedule an initial consultation today.

Get help for shift work disorder. Call Neurology & Sleep Medicine to schedule a consultation today.

Sleep: The Foundation of Your Health—We Can Strengthen It.