Sleep Disorders: Shift Work Disorder Resulting From Working Long Hours And Multiple Jobs

DO YOU FALL ASLEEP EACH TIME YOU SIT DOWN? IF SO, YOU MAY HAVE SHIFT WORK DISORDER.
DO YOU FALL ASLEEP EACH TIME YOU SIT DOWN? IF SO, YOU MAY HAVE SHIFT WORK DISORDER. | Source

Work Should Not Be Planned Punishment

When public health and preventive medicine studies became more accepted and more popular in 1990s America, one of the core areas of focus was workplace stress. This is the type of stress that results in low productivity, increases sicknesses, and employee burnout.

My thought has always been that work should not be punishment, but a few employers do not agree.

A defunct steakhouse chain in my metro area was headed by an ex-Marine that had been ejected from the nation of Germany for unwanted behaviors and permanently refused re-entrance because of his violent handling of subordinates and civilians.

His manner with steakhouse management teams and crew was not better. His case is one of the most extreme I have witnessed in workforce development, but some other supervisors and execs may share some of his philosophies, if not his extreme behaviors.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show us that 50 to 70 million adults in America suffer from sleep related disorders.

Source

The 12-hour Shift At Its Worst

Some of this person's requirements in restaurant operations were inhumane. These included refusing breaks to crew and management, refusing to allow anyone to sit down at anytime during an 8 - 12 hour shift, and often times, refusal to allow management and crew to use the restrooms. Managers were not to eat during their workday when, in fact, the chain's official manual listed breaks and free meals to both managers and crew.

One of the restaurants in the chain did not have air conditioning and cases of heat exhaustion were high in number. Several of the units had faulty heating systems and when the heat ceased working on some winter days, managers and crew were required to stay at work,where they wore their coats. This restaurant chain did not enjoy long-term success in this market.

The worst case events in this chain included managers working alone in a restaurant with part-time crew for 12 hours without food or permission to use the bathroom --- The ex-Marine always caught people when they'd had enough and sat down or were in the bathroom; he must have been using early GPS technology. Twice a week, shift work resulted in managers leaving work at midnight and reporting back at 6:00am; some became ill, while some began suffering injuries in increasing frequency month to month.

The ex-Marine met complaints from management with the answer that there was something wrong with anyone who wanted improvements. He also called the complainers "lazy." The employee turnover rate increased quickly until the chain went out of business in this city and several other steakhouses moved to this market and were successful.

The bad conditions impressed upon workers listed above comprised a serious health risk that caused illness as well as loss to the company in productivity. This need not be the norm in the American workplace.

Source

Shifts and Multiple Jobs

Working long shifts too close together affects many human bodies adversely in the same ways as does working two, three, or more part-time jobs in order to support oneself and ones family in economic recessions.

One of the adverse effects resulting from exhausting varieties of shift work is Sleep Deprivation, but there are others.

SWD (Shift Work Syndrome) is seen in some individuals that usually work a long night shift, that start work early (4 AM to 7 AM), and that work rotating shift. Working multiple part-time jobs to include hours over the normal full-time load seems to mimic working rotating shifts in its adverse health effects.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show us that 50 to 70 million adults in America suffer from sleep related disorders.

This is such a problem, that the Sleep Disorders Questionnaire was added to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in 2005. The 4 sleep-related problems that American practitioners see most often are:

  • Excessive daytime somnolence (EDS) - sleepiness
  • Insomnia
  • Abnormal movements or other behaviors while asleep; sleep apnea and snoring
  • Inability to sleep when one plans to do so (e.g. bedtime)

Source

Working long shifts too close together affects many human bodies adversely in the same ways as does working two, three, or more part-time jobs in order to support oneself and ones family.

Sleep Deprivation Is An Important Problem

Source

Sleep Deprivation

Lack of sleep and its effects became of high interest in the 1940s and 1950s as the US and Soviet governments became interested in space exploration and conquests. One of the major books on the market today that concerns living in space includes related information - prolonged living "out there" may permanently block the body's ability to sleep.

Given that the body heals itself best during sleep and very best during REM sleep that includes dreaming, the idea of humans living in space becomes an unattainable fantasy. Lives become short.

The same results of sleep deprivation seen in US Space Program simulations affect shift workers and those holding down several part-time jobs.

Symptoms and Results of Sleep Deprivation

>These symptoms and results stem from Circadian rhythm sleep disorder (CRSD) as part of Shift Work Disorder (SWD):

  • Fatigue and irritability
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Decreased productivity
  • Headaches
  • Pain - aching joints and muscles
  • Lack of ability to stay asleep
  • Weight gain, obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes type II
  • Higher than average risk of breast cancer in women
  • Irregular menstrual cycles in women
  • Increase of accidents, including traffic and work-related accidents
  • Hallucinations - Walt Disney featured several shows on research results achieved before and during the US Space Program heyday of the 1950s - 1960s. Hallucinations were remarkable during prolonged sleeplessness. In addition, a British study of the era showed that by waking individuals repeatedly, particularly during the onset of REM sleep, one result seen was hallucinations, but another was death (note: experimental subject volunteers were incarcerated felons).

The same results of sleep deprivation seen in US Space Program simulations affect shift workers and those holding down several part-time jobs.

Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Source
Source

Treatment For Sleep Problems

Many Americans today must work exhausting and long shifts, even double shifts, more than once a week. Examples are nurses, firefighters, police officers, food service workers, managers, freelance writers, and some others. Working multiple jobs during days, nights, and weekends is another problem. These workers may fear the effects of SWD on top of economic woes.

If a worker is suffering from SWD, steps can be taken successfully to allow the individual to gain enough refreshing sleep. These steps may entail anything from using bright lights during the workday or drinking small amounts of coffee every couple of hours, to taking one of two medications that can be prescribed and other measures.

If you feel that you may be experiencing Shift Work Disorder, then ask your healthcare practitioner about your symptoms.

Natural Remedies for SWD

Older workers may be especially prone to SWD when they must work several part-time jobs.
Older workers may be especially prone to SWD when they must work several part-time jobs. | Source

Interesting Findings

  • Sleep related disorders are an epidemic in 2012 America (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic http://www.cdc.gov/Features/dsSleep. Retreived September 4, 2012).
  • Results from an online survey of nearly 5,000 police officers in America and Canada found that 40.4% had at least one sleep disorder (one person can have several), while many disorders had been undiagnosed (Rajaratnam SM, Barger LK, Lockley SW, et al. Sleep disorders, health, and safety in police officers. JAMA. 2011;306:2567-2578. (Abstract: look for article abstract number 22187276).
  • The only drugs for staying awake that are approved by the FDA for the treatment of SWD are modafinil and armodafinil, DEA Schedule IV agents that work on insomnia, sleepiness during usual wake-time hours, and circadian misalignment.(Medline, September 2012).

Source

Free Online Education

Medscape.org offers CMEs (Continuing Education Credits) in Shift Worker Disorder (provided by Phyllis Zee, MD, PhD) and a wide range of other health and medical topics. This is an example of one of the best and most effective online versions of Ongoing Professional Development Classes that one can find. Medscape keeps one's CME certificates on file in an individual account for reference and for printing as needed.

© 2012 Patty Inglish

More by this Author


Comments 20 comments

Hezekiah profile image

Hezekiah 4 years ago from Japan

Interesting, that is definately a problem here in Japan. Personally I know many people working until midnight and then waking up 5.30am for work the next day - crazy.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

Hezekiah - That is a LOT of work hours and little sleep.


JCielo profile image

JCielo 4 years ago from England

My late father spent his whole working life working shifts in a paper making factory. As a kid I really only saw him coming home and going to bed, or getting up and going to work.

We all use the products that shift workers produce, but we never think about those workers and the effect on their families.

Voted up and interesting.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

Thanks for your comment JCielo. This is too often the case with hard working families.


Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK

I read this with interest because my husband works shifts and always seems to be tired, even though overall he gets more sleep than I do. He doesn't do many night shifts but varies between early and late shifts and regularly starts work around 5 - 6, so I was interested to see that starting work early has an adverse effect. (I had thought it tended to mainly be night-shift that caused most issues.)

And I can vouch for sleep deprivation causing hallucinations! Years ago, a students I had a summer job (cleaning) that involved working 7 days a week and getting up at 6. It didn't stop us partying, and one day while I was vacuuming a corridor someone came up to me. I saw them out of the corner of my eye. But when I turned round there was nobody there. I realised it was because I was so tired and I'm pretty sure I went to bed early that night!


old albion profile image

old albion 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

Hello Patty. Your hub points out an all to common demand on workers. What though of legal break times mid shift. Particularly when serving or on your feet all day. Things need to change in the mire of the workplace.

Voted up and all.

Graham.


mlzingarella profile image

mlzingarella 4 years ago from Massachusetts

This is an interesting hub. It is hard to find people who have not been effected by the difficult economic times. Salary employees are also feeling the stress. Even in education, as people are let go to save the school district money we teachers are expected to do more. My early mornings and late nights catch up to me by the end of the week. It is frightening to read the possible effects this deprivation may have on my overall health.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

@Melovy - I know the experience, too - when I was a restaurant manager at a couple different places, hours were long and when I drove home, I'd see animals in the road that were not there - like zoo animals. Not fun, is it?

@old albion -- There were legally mandated break times for teenagers under 18, but authorities did not always check on that closely. There used to be laws for break times for women, but those were eliminated years ago.

One teaching job sounded fine to me, but when began working, my hours had been changed to M-F 8am - 5pm without any lunch or breaks - that private school closed down.

@mlzingarella - One friend of mine gave up teaching to go into construction and said it was much easier than the long hours and stress of teaching. The health effects really are dangerous; plus for those working several part-time jobs - and contractors - it's a lot of hours with no overtime pay. And college students - a Research Assistant can be hired for 20hrs/week on paper, then be forced to put in 60 hours.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon

Patty - I can attest to these problems personally. I work as a QC editor and as an on-line teacher for transcription. Both jobs are extremely stressful as they are pretty much production based. Especially the QC editing job has such a high mental stress level that by the end of 8 hours, I'm frankly exhausted. You would think that sitting at a computer all day wouldn't be THAT tiring but the mental alertness that I have to keep from the moment I sign on to the moment I click off at the end of 8 hours is insane.

I'm not sure where all this work pressure is going to end to be honest. My son also works in the restaurant industry on the high end side of things and works doing events, banquets, etc. Their working conditions seem to me to be inhumane and a set up for disaster. It also turns me off to be honest about supporting some of these hotels and restaurants if that is the way they "need" to treat their workers---many aren't even employees.

Something needs to be done about the work force in America--especially when we have elected officials who spend more time on vacation than in their office---at our expense no less!

Great article and I shall step off my soapbox for today~~


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

@akirchner - Your job is most stressful and I can see that clearly; I hope others do as well. Long hours of this sort are sometimes not the happiest.

The restaurant business has some of the best and worst bosses in any industry, I think but workers are often maltreated. I did the staff of the dining services for a large hospital and the employees were exhausted and some crying at the end of each work shift. I really cringe when I see the show "Hotel Hell" and what food service staff endure.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon

No kidding on the hotel staff---I feel much the same way after an 8-hour shift though as a QC editor~~~ It's not that I'm unhappy with my job either--it's just the amount of stress that goes into it---and the crappy pay to be honest for what I have to endure and my expertise level. I think something's really wrong with things when people who are so qualified and so gifted at what they do---including restaurant and hotel workers---and get paid so little and have SO MUCH STRESS in their lives. That's just not right. It makes me feel like we're going backwards rather than forward~ Ah well - I'm a pretty resilient person so I try and just shrug it off every day and hit it again the next day but surely is making me wish I hadn't given up that belly dancing career~~~ ha ha~


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

@akirchner - You might make good money, belly dancing!

We could be moving backwards. It reminds me of Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle", except children are not working in meat packing plants and falling into the meat vats and left there -- I hope we are not that close. But, I keep thinking of the scene in "Norma Rae" where a factory worker was suffering a heart attack and his supervisor would not left him rest or get help.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon

No kidding - I keep saying what IS next though? I currently have (no kidding) 5 jobs---2 main ones and 3 "side ones" that actually consume quite a bit of time. I'm beginning to think that if I could only give up sleep, I'd have it made--but that's probably not gonna happen since by the end of the day, I'm definitely outta gas~ As the movie title said though...Somethin's Gotta Give~ Life is too short to be on a treadmill running nowhere~


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Patty this is wonderful! You did an excellent job explaining this. Shift work disorder is awful...I have it an suffer nightly. I worked nights, evenings and days sometimes all in the same week!

My sleep doctor actually sent my boss a note telling her I wasn't allowed to rotate anymore:) hahahaha. I did a study once and I was the only tech who knew how to draw blood so they put me up in a hotel for blood

draw nights...a tech would wake me up - I'd draw the blood - go back to

sleep and get up for my regular shift at 7! Haha that was awful! I made a

bunch of extra money for that study:) lol

I can't remember the exact study name but they did research on sleep deprivation and mice. They put them in a cage that kept spinning (like a wheel) and if they stopped moving it would give them a little shock. The

mice kept running until they died. Sleep deprivation killed them all.

This really is no joke though. If I did not work from home and have the ability to sleep when I want I'd be in big trouble!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

@akirchner - I never worked so many jobs as you do right now and I hope you don't have to do it forever.

@RealHouseWife - This is an incredible health hazard, and still, some people call workers "lazy" if they want a reasonable amount of sleep each night.

It does not make one a better person to die from working unhealthy hours does it? Yet, some people think it does - both workers and employers.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

I've written similar hubs about this problem. I work a 12 hr midnight shift -three in a row, and am unable to do anything but eat, work, sleep, and repeat. Unfortunately, by the third night I am done for the next day and end up sleeping my day off away.


nina64 profile image

nina64 4 years ago from chicago, Illinois

What a great hub. How can anyone work under those conditions that you describe in your article? No wonder the restaurant closed down. I too am a shift worker, and I cannot function without at least 4-6 hours of sleep daily. It's too bad that our economy dictates our work lives to the point whereas people have to work 2 and 3 jobs in order to support their families. Doing any type of shift work does create health problems in the long run. I developed type 2 diabetes when I started working the night shift. But I'm still doing what I need to do for my family. Again, great hub. Voted up.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

nina64 - A lot of people feel that work takes up their whole lives, becaase it keeps them tired, running around looking for better work, and putting up with health afflictions of shift work.

With retirement ages going up yearly, the problem will never end.


FolliediVetro profile image

FolliediVetro 3 years ago from Malta

Hi Patty,I agree with you.Unfortunately we often start to live after retirement...we do live every day !Thanks to follow me !Nice week end.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

I hope we all can retire one day and have some fun :)

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working