How to Cope with Shift-Work Disorder

September 6, 2013

It’s 10 PM of another average Monday. The others are glad since their shift is already done. Good for them. They can finally rest tonight and join the rest of the city as it’s blanketed by the silence and solace of the peaceful evening. They can “call it a day” and reward themselves with the adage, “it’s all in a day’s work.”

It’s different for you, though. You clock yourself in. Your shift has just begun. Deep down inside yourself, you kind of feel a bit jealous that they have better shift schedules than you. But you realize that incubating these feelings of envy won’t do any better – it’ll just make you more stressed and miserable than you already are as this unnatural timetable of work and labor wraps itself around you. You’re already having problems with the consequences of this shift schedule – you have the so-called “shift-work disorder” which is a kind of insomnia.

Technically in a nutshell, shift-work disorder is a sleeping disorder caused by an unnatural working schedule that significantly disrupts, disturbs, and downrightly destroys your circadian sleep cycle. It has obvious and apparent negative effects on the person with the disorder such as chronic sleep deprivation. Well, there’s a reason why we human beings aren’t created as owls, right? We’re not nocturnal. But that fact doesn’t change the job that you have and the sleeping disorder that you have, so how do you cope with it?

Shift-Work Disorder

  • Sleep during the day

It only makes sense that you chose to become nocturnal since, (you have to admit it) you are a night person with that kind of work schedule. But remember that being nocturnal does not only mean that you are awake at night, but it also implies that you sleep during the day. So you might as well make the most of it by actually sleeping during the day instead. Coping with a disorder during the night won’t do much if you’re not got to sleep at all anyway. So, compensate. That’s the key-word.

  • Take short naps during breaks

There are times when even sleeping during day won’t help you that much, so what now? Does that mean that all is lost? Of course, not. There’s always a way. And that “way” can come to you in the form of breaks during your period of work. Take naps. Don’t be shy. I’m sure it’ll be common among your workmates. Just don’t be too into your nap that you actually begin sleeping on the job. I mean, your sleep is important, but let’s not forget that you’re still a working employee. It’s a short remedy, and little by little, it helps.

  • Work with others to stay alert

You need to keep your mind alert. The threshold of sleep inches closer and closer to you the more you spend moments with an idle body and mind. So the best way to keep yourself awake would be to interact with other people so that you keep your mind as alert as your body should be. Keep your body awake at the same time by doing something as simple as tapping your fingers on a desk (silently) or by tapping your foot on the floor (without annoying people).

  • Chemical warfare

Sometimes you have to do what you have to do – use chemical warfare by ingesting coffee or tea or even energy drinks. There’s no shame in it. Everyone does it, especially among those working the night shift like you.

Shift-work disorder isn’t always life-threatening. You may experience a bit of a “shock” with the lifestyle change that comes with working a graveyard shift, but we all take life with different spoons, right?

Some people work 9 to 5, and others work 9 to 5 too, but in the AM. But hey, that’s what makes this world go ‘round, right? But I guess all you have to do is accept and come to terms with what you’ve become. You’re an owl now. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t be awesome. Owls are awesome. Sweet dreams!