The sleep-wake cycle of individuals becomes irregular and leads to reduced TST (Total Sleep Time) on a nightly basis. This in turn results in an accumulation of chronic sleep debt. Gastro-intestinal symptoms, malaise, impaired immunity, mood dysfunction, lack of attentiveness ‘Absenteeism’, lack of productivity, weight gain, insulin resistance, accelerated ageing and other somatic symptoms are all consequences of delayed sleep onset.
How does one minimize this damage?
A few strategies to cope with night shift jobs include:
1. Employers must ensure that these shifts are rotated among people with timely weekly offs in order for the employee to maintain appropriate and sufficient sleep schedules.
2. Make sure there is enough exposure to bright light during work hours.
3. After the night shift, make sure that you darken the room and minimize noise pollution to create an environment conducive for sleep. Take power naps just before the night shift.
4. You can also take medications both to induce sleep and promote waking. Phototherapy under the guidance of a physician can also help in regulating the circadian clock of a person.
5. Employers should also obtain feedback from employees about their shift preferences and assign shifts accordingly.
6. People in rotating shift jobs can take certain measures to ensure that their body is ready for the new schedule.
7. It’s very critical for the person’s family and companions to support the person in helping them sleep better. It’s important that they realize the importance of the body clock, and the need to regulate sleep.