In order to keep up with production demands in our continuously expanding global economy, millions of Americans are required to work the dreaded night shift (also commonly referred to as the graveyard shift or 3rd shift).
For people who work a standard 9-5 day job, the night shift doesn’t seem so bad. After all, don’t people who work the night shift have all day to do what they want to do? Sounds like a pretty good deal to some!
However, it doesn’t quite work out that way.
You see, people who work the night shift often suffer from a variety of sleep-related issues, not to mention other health risks. If you want to find out if you are at risk, and what you can do to improve your quality of sleep, as well as your overall health and wellness, then keep reading.
What are the common sleep issues night shift workers suffer from?
Shift work sleep disorder occurs when your body’s circadian rhythm, or natural internal clock, gets thrown out of sync.
Unlike people who work during the day and are able to rest at night, the internal clock of night shift workers gets thrown off because they are not able to follow the naturally occurring rest and awake patterns of nature (http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/shift-work-sleep-disorder-topic-overview).
By not being able to use day and night as a natural guide for normal sleep patterns, a variety of issues can arise, including:
- Brain fog
- Poor concentration
- Sleep apnea
- Falling asleep on the job
- Higher stress levels
and more. In addition to these short-term problems related to shift work, there can also be long-term consequences including:
- Weakened immune system
- Heart disease
- Increased risk of stroke
and more. If you are experiencing any health related issues due to shift work, you can contact us and we can schedule a sleep evaluation to see if you are suffering from sleep apnea.
Cope with these issues and sleep during the day
One of the most common questions we hear at our West Babylon office from shift workers is, “How can I sleep better during the day so I can feel more alert while working at night?”
It’s a tough question because your body is fighting the natural tendency to want to sleep at night and stay awake during the day, which is partially responsible for the issues you are experiencing. That being said, here are a few things you can do to get better sleep during the day:
- Turn out all lights and buy black curtains. If you want to get your best sleep possible during the day, you need to mimic the conditions your body would experience if you were trying to fall asleep at night. This means the bedroom should be as dark as possible.
- Develop a routine. A lack of routine can be a contributing factor in your inability to sleep during the day. You need a “before bed” routine, just as if you were going to sleep at night. Brush your teeth, read a book, listen to some calming music, etc.
- Avoid caffeine toward the end of your shift. Even though it is technically morning, if you are going to sleep in a couple of hours, you need to eliminate or significantly reduce your caffeine intake.
- Take a nap before your shift starts. Oftentimes, taking a 60-90 minute nap followed by a shower will help wake you up before your shift starts.
- Try dark glasses or a sleep mask. Again, this goes back to “tricking” your body into believing it is nighttime. If your eyes are not able to sense light, it is typically much easier to fall asleep.
- Avoid alcohol before trying to sleep. While alcohol may initially help, it will only hurt you in the long run. It can create dependence, and also disrupt an already tumultuous sleep cycle.
Why is this a big deal?
So you lose a little sleep and you are a little groggy at work; no big deal, right? Sure you don’t feel 100%, but that’s just part of the daily grind, and you’ll have some time off in a few days.
Wrong. In fact, many night shift accidents have been linked to sleep apnea, other conditions related to fatigue, insomnia, et cetera (http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/shift-work-and-sleep).
Because of this, it may soon become a liability to not allow night shift workers an extended break period when they can take a nap. If fatigue and lack of sleep are responsible for accidents every day, instituting mandatory nap time and sleep apnea testing would make sense.
Treatment options available from Babylon Dental Care
At Babylon Dental Care, we can help night shift workers who may be suffering from sleep apnea. While not all night shift-related insomnia and fatigue is related to sleep apnea, in many cases it is.
If you are experiencing any of the above signs and symptoms mentioned, it is important that you contact our office in order to schedule your sleep apnea evaluation.
Call us today and ask to speak with our Sleep Apnea Coordinator, Sharon (SCamerino@babylondentalcare.com). Sharon has a wealth of knowledge in regard to sleep apnea treatment, and can set up a free sleep apnea evaluation with Dr. Clifford Brown, our sleep apnea treatment specialist at Babylon Dental Care.
Getting treatment for sleep apnea is important
If you have sleep apnea, it is important to seek treatment, as major accidents have occurred right here in New York due to sleep apnea. If you operate heavy machinery at work, or work in close proximity with individuals who do, you are at a higher risk for serious injury as a result of apnea.
If you are searching for a new dentist on the South Shore of Long Island in or around the West Babylon or Patchogue areas to help treat your sleep apnea, please give our practice nearest you a call today! We have two locations (Babylon Dental Care at Great South Bay and Babylon Dental Care at Gateway Plaza) and would love to meet you and your family.
Don’t wait. Give our office nearest you a call today in order to schedule your complimentary sleep apnea evaluation!