Sunday, December 27, 2009

Shift Work Sleep Disorder - What Can You Do?

Although I'm not a doctor and I don't pretend to be one I can tell you from my experience what I did to minimize the discomfort of working the night shift. 

So, what is Shift Work Sleep Disorder. 

According to an entry in Wikipedia shift work sleep disorder is a circadian rhythm sleep disorder which affects people who change their work or sleep schedules frequently or who work longterm on other than the day shift. The effect of an out of sync circadian rhythm is like having jet lag on a daily basis.
The advice I got at work was that I should invest in blackout blinds.  They were readily available to purchase from any of the big box home improvement stores.  Getting a good night sleep was important to me but staying awake at work was harder.  After 2 o'clock in the morning I found myself fighting to stay awake.  I invested in a good stainless steel thermos and drank coffee all night to try to stay awake.

Now, years later I find myself on afternoon shift struggling to stay awake in the middle of the afternoon!  If I'm sitting down my eyes would close after a time without me even knowing it!  Stopping at a traffic light was worrying me.  What if I fell asleep while driving?  What could I do to prevent that from happening?

Have you ever heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD?

I'm not talking about the depression part of the disorder.  I'm talking about during that time of the year where we have less sunlight and how it affects our overall well-being.  It's almost like hitting a wall when we go back to Standard time.  People who live in the northern parts of the world feel it more than those who live nearer the equator. 

So, I tried something.  I heard that people who are diagnosed with SAD use light therapy to make them feel less depressed and feel more energetic.  After doing a bit of research I realized that even though I'm not depressed I could use some of the benefits the therapy offers.  If it worked! 

So I got the Phillips Golite Blue light after reading everything on the box. I wanted to go to the Phillips web site to take their online assessment before I bought but thought why not save a trip and buy it anyway.

It was a pretty big impulse buy but if it worked I would soon forget about the price.  If it didn't work I could always take it back to the store. 

Well it's 3 months later and I still have the light box.  I'm not taking it back.  Just being able to keep my eyes open during the day is worth the price.  Now I'm not missing parts of TV shows or movies anymore and I don't worry about falling asleep at the wheel like I used to.  I'm very happy with this product.


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