Understanding Circadian Sleep Disorders (Part 3)

June 27, 2013

Shift Work Disorder

Hey! It’s you again! I’m so happy to see you finishing up our series about understanding Circadian Sleep Disorders. If you missed any or both of the two previous articles, you can click here to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of “Understanding Circadian Sleep Disorders”.

Anyway, as you’ve noticed, some Circadian Sleep Disorders can range from slightly annoying, annoying, crippling, and awesome-sounding, especially ASPS. Just say “May the ASPS of the morning watch over you, friend” and you will be not just awesome-sounding, but you will be in truth, in jest, and indeed, awesome. But here we are, and we’ll talk about the last two Circadian Sleep Disorders to wrap this series up, so I hope you’re ready.

Shift Work Disorder

Call center agents working in shifts until dawn. 24-hour fast food workers doing the night shift. Graveyard shift nurses. What do they all have in common? Yes, I used the word “shift” in all of them, but aside from the unrelated obvious, it’s a common factor among them that they have work schedules so radical that it would put the Square Root of Pi to shame. Seriously.

Well, I’ll just go on to the next disorder now and put a paragraph to properly explain the actual disorder after them because they’re actually pretty similar disorders.

Jet Lag Disorder

Jet lag is kind of a funny term. I mean, the word “Jet” immediately reminds anyone of a fast-travelling aircraft… or Kung Fu – which is actually like an aircraft, especially when a flying kick sends the opponent to the sky.

The word “Lag” however is one that a lot of online gamers hate and love, depending on whose team is experiencing it. But it’s a shame that this disorder isn’t called the “Jet Li Disorder,” huh? I mean, you could totally pass any job interview if one of your weaknesses states “Turns into a Fearless Chinese Kung-Fu martial artist when stressed.” But I guess we have to stick with the second-best-sounding thing.

What they’re really about

Well here’s the real science I hope you’ve been looking forward to. You see, both disorders are extrinsic. They’re both caused by external factors unlike the other Circadian Sleep Disorders that you’re either usually born with or just somehow pops up in you.

Both of the previous disorders are greatly or mainly affected by behavioral factors, such as flying to a completely different time-zone or having no choice but to be a hero and choose a radical work schedule that will get the worst of you for the sake of those whom you serve. By the way, I used the term “hero” to describe call center agents, night shift workers in 24-hour stores, and graveyard-shifting nurses because that’s what they are.

Well, with Jet lag, the main problem is that their body’s circadian rhythm gets completely desynchronized. It’s like their circadian rhythm becomes a kitten that’s put in a barrel, having it spun, and letting it free in the backyard of a neighbor. Totally disoriented and like, “Where the heck am I? What just happened?” Yeah. Almost exactly like that. All that de-synchronization adds fatigue. Too much fatigue. For about 72 hours. Then thankfully, the body adjusts to the new cycle of that time-zone.

With Shift Work Disorders, the whole deal about rotating the body’s circadian schedule upside-down and inside-out to become completely nocturnal causes great problems. (Sorry for the spoiler). It’s because we humans aren’t owls. In case you haven’t noticed, we don’t have feathers or a beak or deadly talons nor do we have a general appetite for fresh live mice.

Some people doing radical shifts have bodies that simply cannot shift or adjust sufficiently, so they suffer from chronic sleep deprivation, and not to mention, they’re usually groggy and irritated most of the time. Well at least you can still get fries at 3 in the morning. Awesome heroes. That’s what they are.

It’s not about having a disorder. It’s about sending a message. The message is that despite the hindrances or circumstances that revolve or storm around you, you can still stand and make the most out of your life. Remember, like everyone else, people with CSD or CSRDs still have 24 hours in a day. They may use it differently with regards to time, but it’s still the same serving everyone has been offered by God to make the most out of our days and hours. God bless!