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Sleep Problems: Shift Work Disorder During Long Days and Multiple Jobs

Updated on October 24, 2017
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty uses advanced degrees in preventive medicine and health psychology in research and treatment for public and private health agencies.

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 Can Kill Body and Mind

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:

  1. Excessive daytime somnolence (EDS) - sleepiness
  2. Insomnia
  3. Abnormal movements or other behaviors while asleep; sleep apnea and snoring
  4. 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.

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

Is Sleep Deprivation Real?

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 (Reference: Nasa.gov, 1950 - 1960) affect shift workers and those holding down several part-time jobs.

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

Source

Symptoms and Results of Sleep Deprivation

Symptoms and adverse results stem from Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder (CRSD) as part of Shift Work Disorder (SWD):

  • Fatigue and irritability: Often noticed early by family, friends, coworkers, and bosses.
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Decreased productivity
  • Headaches
  • Pain, such in aching joints and muscles
  • Lack of ability to stay asleep (sleep interruption)
  • Weight gain, obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes type II
  • Higher-than-average risk of breast cancer in women
  • Irregular menstrual cycles in women, even amenorrhea
  • Increase of accidents, including traffic and work-related accidents
  • Hallucinations: Walt Disney featured several TV episodes on research results from the NASA startup during the 1950s and early 1960s. Hallucinations were remarkable during periods 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 was hallucinations, but another was death (note: experimental subject volunteers were incarcerated felons).

Source

Natural Remedies for SWD

Treatment for Sleep Problems

Many Americans today must work exhausting and long shifts, even double shifts, more than once a week. Examples are registered 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.

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

Source

Sources

  • 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. Retrieved 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).

© 2012 Patty Inglish MS

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