Shift work sleep disorder (SWSD) is a circadian rhythm sleep disorder. It is common in those who work non-traditional hours like early morning shifts, night shifts, graveyard shifts or rotating shifts. The symptoms of this disorder are as follows:
- Excessive sleepiness
- Lack of energy
- Insomnia that prevents you from getting adequate sleep
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep that is not refreshing or feels incomplete
- Trouble in relationships
- Depression or moodiness
This disorder can really impact your life and is known to worsen conditions like sleep apnea which are characterized by snoring and interrupted breathing. Here are some ways to deal with shift work sleep disorder.
1. Sleep Aids
Sleep aids such as Lunesta and Ambien, which help you fall asleep and stay asleep, are a temporary fix to this problem. You can ask a doctor to prescribe them to you. If you are unsure about taking prescription sleep aids, there are natural aids that can assist with sleep. Below are the top five natural sleep aids:
- Melatonin is a hormone your body produces naturally. This hormone signals your brain that it is time for sleep. Studies have shown that melatonin improves daytime sleep quality and duration. This is particularly helpful for shift workers.
- Valerian Root. This root is commonly used as a natural treatment for symptoms of anxiety, depression, and menopause. This root is also the most commonly used sleep-promoting herbal supplements in the US and Europe
- Magnesium is important for brain function and heart health. Studies have shown that magnesium has a relaxing effect on the body due to its ability to regulate the production of melatonin.
- Lavender. Lavender’s soothing fragrance is believed to enhance sleep. In fact, several studies show that simply smelling lavender oil for 30 minutes before sleep may be enough to improve the quality of sleep.
- Passion Flower also is known as Passiflora incarnata or maypop and is a popular herbal remedy for insomnia. Its effects on humans appear to depend on which form the herb is consumed. Passionflower tea may slightly improve your sleep, More studies are needed to prove the benefits of passionflower in humans.
Make sure you check with your doctor before taking any medication or natural supplement
2. Limit Alcohol and Caffeine
Stop drinking either of these about 3 hours before bedtime – they dehydrate you and thus affect your quality of sleep. Caffeine stays in your system for at least 6 hours. It shortens REM sleep and leads you to go to the bathroom during the night more often.
3. Exercise Regularly
There are studies which suggest that moderate, daily exercise can improve sleep and help fix chronic insomnia as it lessens the time it takes to fall asleep. An easy workout before or after work may help you sleep better. Yoga or stretching can also be good before bed.
4. Limit Exposure to Daylight
If you have to work a night shift which ends after sunrise, you might want to avoid the sunlight by wearing sunglasses when heading home. This is because daylight exposure tends to suppress the production of melatonin and makes your body stay awake.
5. Keep Your Bedroom Quiet and Dark
To block out any sunlight, you can use drapes or wear an eye mask. Keep digital devices which are bright out of the bedroom as well as the lights stimulate you to stay awake. Keep your room quiet and cool and use earplugs to drown out any noise.
6. Establish a Relaxing and Regular Bedtime Routine
This routine will help you unwind and send a signal to your brain that it’s time to sleep. Maybe take a hot bath before sleeping.
7. Avoid Working Extended Hours
Avoid working prolonged shifts and putting in excessive overtime. Make time for sleep so you can participate in life fully.
The above techniques can help cure this disorder and most of them are also snoring remedies. You need to work on fixing different aspects of your life to be able to have a permanent positive impact on your sleep and cure shift work sleep disorder.