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Are you a shift worker? You may have SWSD

14-03-2012

If you are a shift worker who has to change their sleep patterns regularly to suit your job then you may suffer from shift worker sleep disorder (SWSD). SWSD is characterised by insomnia and excessive sleepiness during wakeful periods. People suffering from SWSD will often get less sleep than people with regular sleeping habits and will feel a constant need to have a nap during their periods of wakefulness.

The body and mind are accustomed to regular sleeping patterns, following the circadian rhythms of the outside world. When someone keeps changing their sleep patterns, the body struggles to keep up and the result is that the person’s sleep will suffer.

Unfortunately, many people with SWSD do not have the luxury of finding a new job. However, while changing jobs might not be an option, there are ways of minimising the effects of SWSD. First, if your shifts times change more regularly than every two weeks, you should talk to your boss about increasing the length. Two weeks is seen as a good minimum, allowing your body and mind to adapt. Ensuring that the shift times do not change to dramatically is also important, with incremental steps far bigger than large time changes.

If your boss is resistant, point out that it will ensure a more alert workforce!


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