Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Switch to Shift Work Leads to Sleep Struggles

Try going to sleep when the sun is rising and staying asleep through the brightest hours of the day. The odd sleep schedules that come with shift work is never easy. It goes against everything we learned at an early age. Turning your sleep schedule topsy-turvy is a shock to the system that can lead to insomnia and chronic fatigue.

Switching from shift work to regular daytime hours has the opposite effect, a new study reports. Swedish researchers examined the transition hardships associated with shift work in an article published in the July issue of Chronobiology International.

The study involved more than 3,600 participants who answered questionnaires about work hours, sleep and work environment at the start and end of a five year period.

Results show the participants had the most sleeping problems upon entering shift work. Many reported falling asleep on the job and having difficulty getting to sleep after work.

The risk of work fatigue and insomnia significantly diminished after the subjects returned to daylight work hours.

The findings were adjusted for various factors including work demands, physical workload and familial status.

Some shift work schedules are more difficult than others a previous study suggests. Jobs with start times between 8 p.m. and 12 a.m. tend to limit sleep and harm performance at work.

Caffeine may help offset fatigue and limit mistakes at work. Make sure to limit consumption to the first couple hours of work so you don’t have problems getting to sleep later.

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