Shift Work Sleep Disorder (SWSD)

Around 25% of workers are engaged in some type of shift work such as night shift work, rotating shifts and early morning or evening shifts.  Shift work sleep disorder (SWSD) refers to either excessive sleepiness and/or insomnia resulting from shift work.  Shift work has also been associated with metabolic, cardiovascular and mental disorders.  Shift work can have a negative effect on your personal relationships and may increase your risk of a motor vehicle accident.


Some ideas to improve alertness and sleep for shift workers include:

  • Create a dark, quiet place to sleep (darken the bedroom with light-blocking curtains or shades)
  • Wear dark sunglasses 1-2 hours prior to a daylight bedtime
  • Allow exposure to bright light from early in the night shift until two hours before the shift ends, and then avoid bright light in the morning prior to sleeping.
  • Take a brief nap before going to work
  • Medications to increase sleep duration and/or alertness are sometimes beneficial and should be discussed with your physician.
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