16 Sleep Week Day 2: Shift Workers

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On Day 2 of 16 Sleep Week, local experts discuss the affects of shift work on sleep patterns.

A "shift worker" is defined as anyone outside of the traditional "9 to 5" work day. That includes Americans in industries across the board, like medical professionals, first responders, factory workers, commercial drivers, pilots and so many more.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, more than 22 million Americans work evening, rotating or "on-call" shifts. People who sleep during the day or during irregular hours, are continually sleep-deprived. In fact, the average sleep cycle of someone who sleeps during the day may be two to four hours shorter than that of someone who sleeps at night.

Sleep deprivation can cause a variety of problems, socially, medically and on the job. Sleepiness can lessen the quality of one's job performance and affect normal functions like memory, mental ability, motor skills and mood.

To solve the problem, experts suggest night workers stick to a daily routine even on their off days. A schedule helps with the circadian rhythm of the body, which are "messages" that tell various body functions when to kick in.

Sleep professionals also suggest avoiding caffeine within 6 hours of bedtime, occasional use at the beginning of the shift is okay. Also, avoid heavy or fried foods. Shift workers should stick to meals high in protein and carbohydrates. Other advice, use "bright light therapy," and try adjusting lighing levels and temperature at your job. Plus, invest in dark curtains in your bedroom.

If you have sleep questions, email them to 16morningnews@wndu.com

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