The symptoms of shift work disorder include:
- Excessive sleepiness when you need to be awake, alert, and productive.
- Insomnia, or the inability to sleep when you need to. This can mean trouble falling asleep, or waking up before you’ve slept sufficiently.
- Sleep that feels unrefreshing or insufficient
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lack of energy
- Irritability or depression
- Difficulty with personal relationships
Most people who work shifts will experience some difficulty with these symptoms—for example waking up after fewer than 7-9 hours of sleep or feeling drowsy while on the job. For people with shift work disorder, however, this is an ongoing problem that continually causes symptoms and starts to interfere with work or family life.
Shift work disorder can be caused by night shifts, rotating shifts, or even an early morning shift. It can cause chronic sleep deprivation, in which a person never catches up on needed sleep and carries a significant “sleep debt” with them. This kind of chronic loss of sleep has serious implications for health, productivity, and safety.
Excessive Sleepiness and “Microsleeps”