By: Lauri Leadley, CCSH, RPSGT- Clinical Sleep Educator, Sleep Coach
Shift work disorder is one of the outcomes of a 24/7 work culture. And while traditionally, shift work has mostly been associated with professional sectors such as industrial workers, law enforcement, healthcare, and service call centers, in today’s day and age of “round-the-clock connectivity” young professionals across the board are working 24-hour-a-day work schedules.
Whether market competition or specific challenges in employment, a substantial number of people today are prone to shift work disorder. In the US, approximately 15% of the workforce operate outside the 9 am – 5 pm work schedule.
Many people who come to me suffer from various symptoms of shift work disorder. While some regularly work the night shift, others work in a rotational shift schedule.
Regardless of which shift you might be working, if you suspect you suffer from shift work disorder or find it hard to maintain a healthy sleep routine, consulting with a professional sleep coach is a course of action you should consider seriously.
Symptoms of Shift Work Disorder
As with all other sleep disorders, shift work disorder presents through several symptoms. These include:
- Excessive sleepiness during your productive/waking hours.
- Difficulty falling asleep and waking up.
- Inadequate sleep or constantly feeling like you need more sleep.
- Irritability or depression.
- Low energy.
- Difficulty focusing.
- Lack of sufficient sleep, low levels of energy, and mental and physical stress due to poor sleep starts impacting personal relationships or family life.
When Should I Consult with a Professional Sleep Coach?
If you’ve noticed any or all of the above-mentioned symptoms or if you notice that, despite your best efforts, your symptoms are progressively getting worse, it is best to seek professional help.
It is also important to know that while some people are naturally more productive during the evening or later hours of the day, others work better during early morning shifts.
In each of these situations, if you find that you are struggling to sleep or from lack of sleep, the condition could progress to chronic sleep deprivation.
How Can a Sleep Coach Help Me?
Consulting with a professional sleep coach could help you address your shift work disorder triggers and symptoms, so you can start sleeping better.
When you consult with a professional sleep coach, they will assess your sleep problem by looking closely at your health history, your lifestyle, and collect detailed information about your sleep patterns as well as the symptoms of your sleep problem.
This information will not only help deliver an accurate diagnosis of your problem, but also help the sleep coach in formulating an effective treatment plan including lifestyle changes, therapy, and medication.
How is Shift Work Disorder Diagnosed?
Professional sleep coaches use several tools when assessing a sleep problem. These include:
Sleep Diary – Detailed notes about your sleep patterns are important to assess if you have a sleep disorder or if the triggers lie elsewhere.
Sleep Studies – If the trigger(s) for your sleep condition stems from a different sleep disorder, a sleep study might be recommended. During the study, which can happen at an overnight sleep lab or at home using specific equipment, information on various body functions such as your oxygen levels and brain waves is captured.
Sleepiness Scales – Measuring your sleepiness levels during your actual productivity hours is an important assessment criterion.
As mentioned earlier, this information is crucial for assessing your shift work disorder and to create a treatment plan.
A Problem with a Solution
Quality sleep is a fundamental aspect of good health. Sadly, quality sleep is one of the first casualties of our hectic lifestyles and professional demands. The good news is that with a few lifestyle changes and with professional help, shift work disorder can be effectively addressed.
Valley Sleep Center – We can Help you Sleep Better!
Are you suffering from shift work disorder? Is poor quality sleep impacting your mental and physical health? If yes, then we at Valley Sleep Center can help you. For a consultation with sleep coach Lauri Leadley, please email us at email@example.com.