If your job requires constantly changing shift work, especially changes from daytime to nighttime hours, you may prove vulnerable to shift work disorder. Over time, shift work disorder can greatly affect your overall health and safety. While it is not unusual for those who must occasionally change shifts to experience symptoms of shift work disorder, those whose shifts constantly vary may suffer real harm.
Chronic Sleep Deprivation
Frequent schedule changes can result in chronic sleep deprivation. The body can adjust to a night shift routine if it is constant, but frequent changes between night, day, and early morning can trigger chronic sleep deprivation and mental stress. However, long-term shift work brings its own problems, which may include:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Development of certain cancers
- Metabolic issues
- Gastrointestinal issues
Along with sleep patterns, changes in shift work hours affect the individual’s metabolism and appetite. Working different hours than family and friends can impair relationships and make employees feel out of touch with those closest to them.
Shift Work Disorder Symptoms
As per the National Sleep Foundation, suspect shift work disorder if experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Feeling sleepy when alertness is required
- Lack of energy
- Mood swings
- Insomnia or other sleep issues
- Concentration problems
- Lack of refreshing sleep
Keep in mind that while late-night and changing shifts negatively affect the body’s circadian rhythms and hormone levels, some people are natural night owls. For them, working during the night and sleeping during the day is not that disruptive, but such night owls are in the minority of shift workers. As many as 40 percent of those working changing shifts will experience shift work disorder symptoms.
Falling Asleep on the Job or Elsewhere
Those with shift work disorder may find themselves constantly falling asleep for brief periods, a condition known as microsleeping. It is not possible to control microsleeping, and while it generally lasts just a few seconds, that is certainly long enough to suffer a serious accident either at work or while behind the wheel.
Safety risks involved with shift work disorder may include less concentration on the tasks at hand, raising the risk of accidents due to slower reaction times and clouded thinking. Often, a person does not realize the level of their impairment, believing they are in adequate shape to perform their job or drive a motor vehicle. Those on rotating shifts experience higher levels of on-the-job injuries. Women and older workers are most likely affected by shift work disorder.
Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Assist Those with Shift Work Disorder
If you or a loved one experienced shift work disorder symptoms or have been injured on the job, you need the services of the experienced Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. Call us today at 302-888-1221 or contact us online to set up a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Delaware, we assist clients in Dover, Middletown, and Newark.