Shift work is an unpleasant necessity for millions of workers in the U.S. Shift work includes working the night shift or having a series of rotating shifts throughout the week. While shift work is economically unavoidable for many people, it’s also a major cause of serious health consequences, including sleep disorders. If you’re experiencing sleep disruptions due to shift work or other causes, you can work with a sleep medicine specialist to implement an effective treatment plan.
Effects of Shift Work on the Circadian Rhythm
The circadian rhythm is tuned into the natural cycles of daylight and darkness. Working outside of the usual nine to five pattern disrupts the body’s natural circadian rhythm. This leads to circadian rhythm disorder, which is a sleep disorder that involves a sleeping pattern that is not in sync with the natural cycle. Disruption of the circadian rhythm can adversely affect many bodily functions, including your hormonal balance, immune system, metabolism, cardiovascular system, and digestion.
Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Health
Disruption of the circadian rhythm can cause short-term health effects, such as malaise, gastrointestinal distress, and poor concentration. It can also lead to sleep disorders such as insomnia, which has serious consequences for your health. Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with an increased risk of obesity, cognitive impairment, high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. It’s also been linked to an increased risk of psychiatric problems, decreased quality of life, and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
Methods of Improving Sleeping Patterns
Fortunately, there are ways of improving your sleeping pattern. When you consult a sleep medicine specialist, you can learn about good sleep hygiene habits, such as altering the light in your room when you need to sleep during the day. You might also benefit from bright light therapy or chronotherapy.
Sleep Services of Maryland has more than 20 years of experience helping those with sleep disorders caused by a range of issues, including shift work. Let our sleep medicine specialists help you restore your quality of life with an effective treatment program. If you have any questions about our sleep disorder center, call (240) 912-4683 to learn more.