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NIOSH Training for Nurses on Shift Work and Long Work Hours

Do You Have Symptoms of a Sleep Disorder? (Continued)

If you have trouble falling asleep, your personal health care provider may offer sleeping pills to relieve your symptoms. However, consider seeking the help of a sleep disorders specialist, especially if you repeatedly experience any of the symptoms listed on page 16. Sleep disorders specialists have the training and experience to more thoroughly evaluate and treat sleep problems including the sleep and alertness difficulties workers on evening and night shifts can experience. The information in Other Resources can help you find a sleep center and board-certified sleep specialist.

A National Institutes of Health booklet, Your Guide to Healthy Sleep,1 gives information about common sleep disorders, their causes, diagnosis and treatment. Some untreated sleep disorders cause significant work time sleepiness and impair mental and physical functioning. Be aware that sleep deprivation from shift work and long work hours can worsen sleep disorder symptoms and lead to higher risk for making errors.

Persons with untreated sleep disorders can expose themselves and people around them to significant safety risks on the job, at home, and while driving. Many treatment options are available to reduce these symptoms and improve quality of life.

“My husband would tell me in the mornings that I would actually stop breathing while I slept. And the snoring would get worse. The doctor said it sounds like sleep apnea, so I went for an overnight test. In the sleep lab, they put wires on me and I was in a bed with a camera. After I was asleep for a few minutes, the technician woke me up. He said, ‘You need to put on this CPAP machine and try it.’ I asked, ‘You think I need it?’ and he said, ‘Very much so.’ And so I put it on, and he adjusted the pressures, and I went to sleep for about 7 hours. That was the best night’s sleep I had in 10 to 15 years. I love that machine.”

-Quote from an interview with a night shift worker

Module: 6, Page 17 of 20