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Shift Work Sleep Disorder

Shift work sleep disorder can cause insomnia, the inability to fall asleep. Because second or third shift workers have to sleep on unusual schedules, sometimes during the day, the body’s circadian rhythm is disrupted.

A circadian rhythm refers to the timing of your body’s natural needs during the day. This timing is determined by the production of hormones and other chemicals in your brain that drive you to eat and sleep. Circadian rhythms are influenced by external factors, such as sunlight. When your body senses it is night, it puts into motion the processes to make you fall asleep.

Working night shift means you have to ignore the cues your body is sending you to tell you to fall asleep. This can make you drowsy during work, putting you at higher risk for accidents.

In addition, you may have difficulty falling asleep in the morning. The sunlight and activity of other people send cues to your brain that it should be awake.

Establishing a set schedule every day, even on days you do not work, allows you to fall asleep easier and improves your energy at work. Other behavioral changes, like avoiding caffeine and nicotine close to your bedtime, could also assist you in improving the quality of your sleep.

Our physicians strive to help you sleep well and stay alert during work. At Indiana University Health, we focus on keeping you well and understand the health and safety risks associated with poor sleep. Our sleep disorders physicians share their expertise with you to teach you how to improve the quality of your sleep and if needed, provide prescriptions for medications that can keep you alert and safe at work if your sleep is affecting your productivity. We work with you to develop personalized sleep strategies so you can rest easy.

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Shift Work Sleep Disorder Treatment Information

We treat and diagnose shift work sleep disorder through the following services:


Shift Work Sleep Disorder Locations & Physicians

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