More and more people are doing shift work. With the economy running around the clock, more people are working non-traditional hours. Unfortunately, as more people work overnight shifts at their job, more of them are experiencing shift work sleep disorder or SWSD. SWSD is a common sleep disorder that affects people who work overnight shifts or frequently rotate their shifts between day hours and overnight hours.
The sleep disorder stems from you going against your body’s internal clock, which regulates our body, allowing us to stay awake during daylight hours and sleep after sunset. When you work and stay awake at night, you go against the internal clock and force yourself to stay awake. Some people that work permanent night shifts are able to adapt to the hours by adjusting their lifestyle and training their body cope with the schedule.
Unfortunately, most shift workers try to live a regular live and never fully let their body adapt to the night schedule, resulting in shift work sleep disorders. The most common symptoms of SWSD are insomnia and excessive sleepiness. Other symptoms include difficulty concentrating, frequent headaches and lack of energy.
Here are some general guidelines to follow that may alleviate some of the symptoms of SWSD:
Set up your sleep area for sleep. Make sure your bedroom invites sleep. Make it dark and quiet to promote uninterrupted sleep. Keep out everything that will distract you from sleep, such as a TV, computer, radio, or pet.
Develop a bedtime routine. Train you body and mind for sleep and keep a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day even on your days off. Limit your exposure to sun light on your way home from work. Go to sleep as soon as you come home from work.
Use sleeping aids to help you sleep. If you find it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep, see your doctor about giving you a prescription for sleeping pills as a short-term solution to help you sleep. But don’t come to depend on the sleeping pills. Your body clock needs to adjust the irregular hours
Eat healthy. As you would if you wee working normal hours, eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables. Move away from three big meals but instead eat more snacks and smaller portions of with regular meals. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants.
Begin an exercise regimen. Regular exercise will strengthen your immune system, decrease stress, boost your energy level, and maintain you weight, improve your mood, improve your sleep, and maintain your over-all health.
Most shift workers recover from shift work sleep disorder and sleep normally once their get off overnight hours. But if you can’t change your shift, then conscientiously follow these tips and see if there is any relieve fro the symptoms. If you don’t notice improvement and still can’t seem to adapt to the irregular hours of shift work, see your doctor to rule out any underlying medical problems or other sleep disorders as the cause of your SWSD.
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