Contrary to the standard nine-to-five work day that many Americans are familiar with, shift work is a job that requires showing up to work during non-traditional hours.
If you’ve landed on this page, you probably have a feeling that your sleep and energy is impacted by shift work. Or maybe you’re watching a loved one struggle through their shift work and feeling helpless.
This usually looks like early morning shifts, graveyard shifts or rotating night shifts. It’s also defined by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine as work that falls outside of the hours of 6 am to 7 pm. Often, firefighters, police officers, paramedics, factory workers, doctors, nurses and even food industry workers all have this lifestyle in common. These jobs and their schedules are demanding; and as many as 20% of workers in industrialized nations work night or rotating shifts.
But where this lifestyle most often disrupts your wellbeing is with your sleep-wake cycle. Our circadian rhythms are greatly influenced by natural light and darkness. This signals to our body when it’s time to sleep and wake-up. If we go against these natural cycles or if we maintain irregular sleep patterns, our health might be compromised.
So where does this leave you or your loved one?
There’s no need to panic yet. But you do want to take necessary steps to have a better grip on your sleep as soon as possible.
If you continue going down this road of irregular sleep patterns at non-traditional hours, you’re at a higher risk of shift work sleep disorder. In this article, we’ll dive into what this is, how it affects you and how to manage healthy sleep while working a shift based job.