Shift work sleep disorder is defined as a problem which alters your body’s 24-hour internal clock (known as circadian rhythm) due to the abrupt changes in the work schedules of a person i.e. from day job to night shift.
Light helps the body know when to be active and awake while dark is a cue for the body to rest and sleep. And, among the many different types of shift work, night shifts are the most disruptive to the circadian system.
Working at night (graveyard shift) and sleeping during the day, makes the body’s internal clock reset the body to sleep during the day and be awake at night. Adjusting to that is a very hard thing to do indeed.
Such working hours interfere not only with the body clock but also the homeostatic regulation of sleep – sleep drive – as well. It causes negative effects on sleep, subject’s sleepiness due to sleep deprivation, poor performance and accident risks (through being drowsy which can lead to loss of observation and alertness).
It can also cause gastrointestinal disorders because of the lack of food options available. Night shift workers sometimes just opt for junk foods, and revert to drinking tea and coffee to keep them awake the whole time.
Respiratory problems are also possible due to increased cigarette smoking and, of course, lack of sleep itself which all weaken the immune system. Fatigue as well as cardiovascular disease and cancer can also happen.
Shift work can definitely alter the body’s circadian system and make any existing disorders worse.
These health issues may be due by the disruption of the circadian rhythm that is caused by exposure to light at night. Such exposure will alter sleep-activity patterns, prevents melatonin production and impairs the genes involved in cancer development
All of these results from the clashing between the day-oriented circadian physiology of the body and the need to work and sleep at the incorrect biological time of day.
Another type of shift work that also negatively impairs sleep is any work schedule greater than 10 hours. This makes the individual very vulnerable to having great sleepiness during the night which leads to poor performance and insomnia (inability to sleep) at day.
Whereas some treatments may be given by doctors to counter the negative impact of shift work on night time sleepiness and daytime insomnia, there still seems to be no way to alleviate most of the negative effects of shift work on a person’s cognition and body physiology.
Next is rotational shift work. This is a term given to such work schedules that enforce shift rotations or changes on a set schedule. These kind of shifts are either continuous (meaning going on for a complete 24 hours or 7 days). They can also be semi-continuous, working 2 or 3 shifts per day with or without a day off. Workers are subject to take turns with on all shifts that are part of a particular schedule.
This kind of rotational shift work is common in hospitals, hotels, inns, lodge houses, industrial jobs, airlines, trucking, customs and immigration, mines and BPOs.
Fixed shift work (fixed straight nights, straight afternoons or straight days) is also a type of shift work of which schedules consist of working hours and working days that are generally the same from week to week.
This kind of schedule allows the employee’s body to adjust to a different circadian rhythm. Fixed shift workers do not experience circadian rhythm issues for the first and second shifts. It’s the employee working on the third shift (night schedule) who often rotate their biological clocks.
On the other hand, workers on fixed night shifts and on rotational shift work schedules have a lot in common because of the constantly changing work schedules, night work and potential alterations and problems to their family and social lives.
A shift worker, especially the one who works at nights, must function on a schedule that is not “natural”. These workers often feel tired and lazy as they do not get much-needed sleep during the daytime.
Shift workers experience a lot of work schedule changes which makes them somewhat disconnected from social life.
However, even though shift works can be tasky and tedious, employees can still benefit from this situation…
Shift workers have the privilege of choosing a work schedule that is more convenient for them.
And they have no problem doing errands they need to do at day because they work at nights. Also, they don’t need to wait for weekends to do all the essentials. Not to mention avoiding the rush hours which daytime workers battle every day.
One more thing is that they can adjust their schedule if, for example, they arrive to work late. And in cases where the work hasn’t been completed by the shift’s end, the next worker will simply continue the job. Less stress!
Contrary to what people might think, shift work does not require too many working hours. Employees enjoy more rest and breaks. They can also swap leave periods with co-workers whenever needed.
Shift workers can cope very well with different aspects of work with increased yields of productivity as compared to regular workers who handles all the work singlehandedly.
As with other health problems, there are ways to counteract or lessen the effects of sleep deprivation to an individual.
Doctors can give tips to as how to keep a worker’s health in tune. The doctor may prescribe a sleeping pill to help you sleep at the proper time. But sleeping pills can only ever be a short-term remedy. You may develop a side effect, dependency or a tolerance to it in time
Melatonin supplements are also given as vitamins rather than medicines to help workers adjust better to a shift work schedule. It is a natural hormone from the brain’s pineal gland which signals when the body is supposed to sleep. A dose of 0.5 mg is prescribed and should be taken few hours before the planned time of sleep.
Whenever possible, take a nap during breaks or before reporting for a night shift. A nap of 20 to 30 minutes can help improve your alertness while working.
Do not drive home as you may fall asleep on the road. Taking a bus or cab is more advisable. Or ask somebody to collect you.
Drink moderate amounts of caffeine in order to stay awake on the job. Refrain from taking coffee in the later hours of your shift so that you may fall asleep when it is time to go to bed.
Avoid the light if you need to sleep during the day. Wear eye masks if you’re curtain isn’t thick enough to cover the sunlight.
Tell others in your home as well as neighbors of your work schedule. They should help keep the home and surroundings quiet when they know that you need to sleep.
We can see that shift work is not for everyone but it certainly has some advantages as well as drawbacks.
Take note of the advice above if you work irregular hours and try to make the best of the situation. It is a sleep disorder but one which you can work against better than some more serious varieties.
Jet lag is a sleep disorder in which the body’s own circadian rhythm (body clock or internal biological rhythm that tells it when to sleep or wake up) is altered due to a very fast long-distance trip in a high speed passenger jet aircraft.
It is characterized by a feeling of tiredness and confusion along with a sudden need of the body to adjust to the time zone of another country.
If you are flying from east to west, the time zones are very much different. It is generally accepted that the symptoms are worse when traveling east. One explanation for this is that the body can adapt more easily to a longer day than a shorter one. When we go west, we gain time. Flying east causes the body to feel like it’s losing time.
Jet lag is a common issue among airline pilots, crew and travelers. Indeed, many airlines have detailed guidelines aimed at fighting pilot and crew fatigues caused by this problem.
The jet lag condition may last a few days before somebody is totally adjusted to the new time zone. It is said to be harder to advance sleep time than to delay it. Normally, a recovery period of one day per time zone crossed is a rule.
The term “jet lag” is used for the simple fact that jet airplanes travel so fast you will feel like they leave your body rhythms lagging behind and you are having a feeling somewhat like a hangover.
In contras, if you traveling far but within the same time zone, you’d still be tired from the act of travel but your body clock would be on the correct local time and you would not find yourself beset by jet lag.
When flying long distances, jet lag is definitely inevitable. What’s good is that there are some simple ways to lessen (or even avoid) falling foul of this common sleep disorder.
Travelers often find themselves in trouble trying to get to sleep when their bodies are supposed to wake up and are then forced to get up and moving at what feels like the middle of the night.
To repeat what was mentioned earlier, we find it easier to deal with a longer day than a shorter one. Allow for that day of recovery per time zone. Understand that you cannot avoid het lag completely but you can certainly make things easier on yourself.
So, in order to deal with jet lag, why not try these tips that we discussed here with you today?
And another helpful tip in closing: buy a pair of jet lag glasses with hi-tech specs to better alleviate jet lag issues.
In today’s global village, flying across the world on a regular basis is unavoidable for many of us. Take this advice on board and you will find coping with that old enemy jet lag to be far less taxing.
Sleepwalking or somnambulism is a common parasomnia.
Parasomnias are a group of sleep arousal disorders characterized by abnormal movements, perceptions, dreams, emotions and behaviors that happen in a state of deep sleep.
We can think of parasomnias as disassociated states of sleep. This means that there are periods of wakefulness between the NREM and REM stages of sleep. These cycles involve non-rapid eye movement and rapid eye movement.
Sleepwalking is defined as a behavior disorder that occurs during deep sleep resulting in waking or undertaking unconscious complex behaviors while asleep. It happens an hour or two after sleeping and lasts for about thirty minutes at the most.
The brain of the person affected exits from short wave sleep – another name for NREM sleep – and due to a physiological activation they are subsequently trapped between waking and sleeping.
In the mildest form, the person affected might simply sit up and seem to be awake. Others actually get up out of bed and walk around. Sometimes they perform fairly complex tasks such as moving things around, getting dressed or heading to the bathroom.
Sleepwalking is much more common in children than in adults. Up to one-fifth of kids experience problems with sleepwalking at some stage. It occurs mainly between the ages of 4-12 with the most regular outbreaks happening between the ages of 11-12. For the most part, sleepwalking fades away by the end of adolescence. Usually in children, sleepwalking is in some way linked to school and behavioral issues.
Parents have nothing to be scared of since sleepwalking in kids is normally short-term and easily treated. Also, as mentioned, it tends to disappear naturally after a while.
Saying this, parents should nevertheless be strictly vigilant if their children have it. Although not considered to be a serious disorder in the young, sleepwalking can cause damage and injuries not only to others but to the child who has it as well. Parents should always make sure the child doesn’t leave their house during sleepwalking. And, if possible, lock the bedroom door outside and put a barrier at the stairways.
In an episode of such a parasomniac disorder, the brain is partially awake and is dictating the movements and actions of the body. The affected person’s eyes are open but they don’t seem to see anything or anyone. Their eyes are focused forward and they give a blank stare. They don’t recall any of the events that occurred when they awaken.
People who sleepwalk it sometimes sleep talk too but they talk in a meaningless fashion. The senses are completely asleep. They hear nothing so don’t expect them to reply or even to wake up at once. It will take longer to rouse sleepwalkers. Even though sleepwalkers are technically asleep, when in this state they can be guided. They will follow anyone who will take their hand and lead them. They can even return back to their beds and resume sleep as if nothing had happened.
The sleepwalker is just totally unaware of whatever actions are happening.
Sleepwalking affects about four percent of adults.
Unlike the incidents with children, sleepwalking in adults can have serious complications so it’s important to look at what is provoking the problem. A child might go for a walk around the house whereas an adult risks going out to the car or walking out into the street.
The frequency and severity of every episode in adults are mainly related to sleep deprivation, stressful incidents, extremely elevated emotions, mood disturbances, intense exercises, drinking and drug medications – antihistamines are particularly prone to inducing sleepwalking. Fatigue and noisy environment can also trigger it. Sleep apnea and past head injuries can also be responsible but these are just factors that contribute to the onset of sleepwalking.
The real causes are still unknown up to this time. This is one of the most frustrating parts of trying to understand the issue.
Sleepwalking can sometimes run in the family but it is not related to any underlying psychological or psychiatric illnesses. It is just a sleeping disorder triggered by some physiological problems.
One common myth associated with sleepwalking is that you should not wake the person during this state. It is not dangerous to wake them at all. Expect them to be disoriented or confused and do so very gently but do not worry about waking them. Another misconception is that a person is unable to sustain injuries while sleepwalking. This is simply not true.
One of the strands that can be considered as the very worst form of sleepwalking is a parasomnia that includes sexual arousals. This is known as sexsomnia. Experts define sexsomnia (or sleep sex) as sexual engagements while asleep. The vast majority who have this disorder are men.
Sexsomnia ranges from unconsciously touching the body or private parts while sleeping to just a casual sexual involvement without any knowledge of doing it. In the worst case it can extend to inflicting sexual attacks or damage on another person. Some men who are sued for rape use this disorder to justify their bad deeds and have actually been acquitted of the crime.
With children, little can be done except to take the precautions outlined above. Make the place safe by locking doors and windows, using heavy drapes to cover glass windows and removing any trip hazards.
Adults can do something to address the underlying cause. If you are experiencing occurrences of sleepwalking then look closely at any medication you are taking. Medication can also be used to effectively prevent sleepwalking. Short-term small doses of ProSom (a benzodiazepine), Klonopin or Desyrel can all help.
For a more natural approach, relaxation techniques can be beneficial for long-term problems with sleepwalking.
In general, the best thing you can do is to ensure that you get sufficient sleep, use meditation or other methods of relaxing before bed, sidestep any types of stimuli before heading to bed and, as a preventative measure, take care that the sleeping environment is free of sharp or harmful objects.
Sleepwalking has been reported for centuries and is nothing to worry about!
What is narcolepsy?
Do you feel excessive sleepiness during the daytime? Do you get sleepy easily in a calm environment at any time of the day? If the answer to these questions is yes then you may be suffering from hypersomnia and the most common cause of this condition is narcolepsy.
Narcolepsy is the most common neurological disorder that disrupts sleep/wake pattern leading to hypersomnia.
We will examine what causes narcolepsy and how to cure it.
Narcolepsy is defined by ICSD as irresistible urges to sleep occurring on a daily basis for at least three months with the following laboratory findings present…
The DSM criteria for narcolepsy includes:
Narcolepsy may be associated with cataplexy. This is defined as a transient loss of muscle tone that occurs suddenly in response to strong emotion. That is, during sleep, a paralysis-like condition may occur.
Your narcolepsy may be one of three types.
1.Narcolepsy with cataplexy
This is the most frequent neurological cause of hypersomnia. The classic tetrad of symptoms (described later) is seen in this type of patient
2. Narcolepsy without cataplexy
The occurrence of EDS (excessive daytime sleepiness) and irresistible episodes of sleep without associated cataplexy. Other features may also be present, eg automatic behavior, hypnic hallucinations or sleep paralysis. Nocturnal sleep is usually less disturbed than in narcolepsy with cataplexy
3. Narcolepsy due to a medical condition
A consistent chronological link with the presumed underlying causative medical condition is found
To understand narcolepsy, you need to have some idea about normal sleep cycles. Human sleep pattern cycles through two stages: REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and non-REM sleep. When you fall asleep, sleep is light and gradually become deeper. Both light and deep stages are part of non-REM sleep. The first stage of REM sleep comes after 90 minutes of sleeping. This is the dreaming portion. With narcolepsy, the REM pattern of sleep starts immediately after sleeping and even occurs randomly in the daytime. This means that the normal sleep/wake pattern is disrupted.
The exact mechanism is not clear but there are some known causes. Narcolepsy with cataplexy is linked to a loss of hypothalamic neurons that contain hypocretin. An underlying autoimmune process may lead to the elimination of the hypocretin cells. Several studies show that narcolepsy with cataplexy is associated with human leukocyte antigen (HLA) subtypes DR2/DRB1*1501 and DQB1*0602. First-degree relatives of patients with these subtypes have a 10- to 40-fold increased risk for narcolepsy with cataplexy
The classical ‘tetrad’ of symptoms are helpful for diagnosis but suffered by only a minority of patients with narcolepsy.
These are: 1) excessive sleepiness; 2) cataplexy; 3) sleep paralysis; 4) hypnagogic hallucinations.
Narcolepsy may impact seriously on your education, work, relationships, ability to drive or recreational activities and can have negative effects on self-esteem and mood.
There are, fortunately, effective treatments available for narcolepsy.
Be aware that these drugs are not for over the counter use. Consult your doctor and he will choose the best suitable drug for you.
Besides drug treatment, some behavioral treatments are also worthwhile. The following advice may be helpful for you:
Establish good sleep habits for narcolepsy:
A boring, inactive period will make anyone sleepy. It is more harmful when you have narcolepsy. Try to keep yourself busy. Do some interesting work in your leisure time
Control your diet:
A heavy meal stimulates sleep. When you have narcolepsy, this may also provoke cataplexy. Try to keep you meal size smaller. You may increase your frequency of eating to compensate.
Get help from your family:
If your cataplexy is related to specific stimulations like laughing, joking or crying, try to avoid these situations. Discuss with your friends and family.
Remember that for any neurological disorder the success of treatment depends mostly on the patient. The doctor can only prescribe you but cure depends on your compliance to treatment.
So, try to follow any prescriptions and advice. Most importantly, establish good sleeping habits.
Have a nice sleep!
Sleep apnea has become a global concern these days.
There are numerous reasons behind that and researchers are constantly revealing new things about this sleeping disorder.
This article will help you by showing 25 key ways to enjoy a better sleep in the night.
You will also get a short explanation to learn how it works.
Reading on and learn to work with sleeping disorders effectively…
Here is a list of 25 top tips which can help everyone to sleep better…
1. Try to be mindful
Be mindful as much you can. You can talk with others to become mindful
2. Allow thoughts & emotions to play
Never restrict your emotions and allow them to pervade you gradually
3. Lead a life
Don’t be bored. Try to lead a healthy, structured life
4. Be punctual
Punctuality promotes a good sleeping routine
5. Don’t fight with your sleep
If you find it difficult to sleep on a particular night, relax rather than fighting against it
6. Make your own heaven
Try to develop a good environment around you in the bedroom
7. Get a good pillow
Pillows are really very important. Get a comfortable pillow, neither too hard nor too soft
8. Think twice before purchasing your bed
Beds also play a crucial role in sleeping. Try to buy a large bed where you have enough space to roll over
9. Assess your sleeping posture
Try to figure out your sleeping posture by enlisting the help of others. It can help you to discuss the issue meaningfully with your doctor
10. Consider snooze foods to eat
Snooze foods are always considered as a good option for patients those suffer from sleeping disorders. So try to have some on hand
11. Keep your PC away from sleep
Don’t pass too much times on your computer and keep it away from you while trying to sleep
12. Use blue lights inside of your bedroom
You can use dim blue lights in your bedroom to create a pleasant, relaxed environment
13. Try to realize your circadian rhythm
Not everyone can sleep at a fixed time. So try to understand which particular time suits you best
14. Adapt with working hours better
Work in working hours with more focus and don’t allow yourself to sleep when working
15. Give your eyes a rest
Take a short nap occasionally and allow your eyes to have some rest
16. Use sleep diaries
Using sleeping diaries is advised by many doctors
17. Fix a time to workout
Workout are great for tiring you out and helping you to sleep. Make time to exercise however busy you are
18. Consider implementing the 20 minutes rule
Twenty minute rule is going viral these days. Break tasks down into 20 minute chunks
19. Try alternative therapies
There are alternative therapies like acupuncture or massage. Try those too
20. Discuss things with your sleeping partner
Get help from your sleeping partner to craft a useable formula for you both
21. Don’t push yourself too much with routine
Routine is good to follow but never overdo things for the sake of achieving something.
22. Spend a healthy day to have a healthy night
Be busy in the day time so you can get good sleep during the night
23. Meditate and calm down
Meditation is a wonderful way to calm down your body and mind
24. Talk with your doctor
Get assistance from your doctor if in any sort of confusion regarding your sleeping habits
25. Breath deeper
Try to have some long deep breaths from time to time so your lungs can practice pumping properly
Now you know the top 25 natural tips to get a better sleep.
But, from the expert’s point of view, there is one more way and this can work even more efficiently…
Yes, that is using a sleep apnea therapy which involves a good CPAP machine. This can eventually help you to make your breathing regular and thus you can sleep like a baby whatever your age.
If you can harness all of the tips above in your everyday life, getting a good sleep will not remain a difficult task any more.
So, focus as much as you can and try to implement those tips gradually for maximum success.