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Asleep at the wheel: the realities of Shift Worker Disorder

Is regular sleep a myth for shift workers? They’re the lifeblood of so many sectors including healthcare, transportation, hospitality, and manufacturing. Shift workers are also relied on by the booming gig economy where they deliver parcels, collect takeaways and drive for ride-hailing services as independent contractors. It’s not easy work and the lack of regularity in shift workers’ lives can prove problematic, especially when it comes to sleep and wellbeing.

Unpredictable working schedules could mean many shift workers operate day-to-day (or night-to-night) with a broken body clock. Irregular sleep patterns can make it harder to get a good night’s rest, affecting a shift worker’s performance and wellbeing. This is known as Shift Work Disorder (SWD).

The impact of Shift Worker Disorder (SWD)

The symptoms of SWD can include feeling sleepy during waking hours, insomnia, waking up earlier than you want to, or waking up feeling unrefreshed. When you need to be awake and alert, SWD can leave you lacking energy, struggling to concentrate, or feeling depressed or irritated. People who suffer from SWD could also experience difficulty with personal relationships as a result.

None of this adds up to a good quality of life. It’s likely that anybody who works unsociable hours or has to frequently adjust to working at different times of day or night would appreciate the guarantee that they can truly unwind and recuperate in their spare time. Yet for those suffering from SWD, relaxation and recuperation doesn’t always come easily.

During working hours, SWD can affect productivity through lack of energy and focus. It can cause health and safety risks through lack of alertness, and it can impact working relationships through irritability and mood swings. It’s a vicious cycle caused by the structure of the working patterns.

The pursuit of improved sleep and wellbeing

The issue is that shift work often takes place outside of standard day time hours, causing the brain to effectively forget how to enter its natural sleep cycles. However, after years of research, testing and development, our specialists at Cambridge Sleep Sciences have uncovered how sound can be used to re-train the brain to revert to those natural sleep cycles.

While many products on the market use sound to mask noises that distract people from falling asleep, SleepHub™ uses scientifically formulated sounds to guide you into natural sleep. It does this through beats and pulses that simulate the waves your brain should experience as it initiates natural sleep. Think of it as a guide-track for minds that can no longer get to sleep easily or experience good quality sleep.

SleepHub™ has a variety of different modes, perfect for different shift workers. Deep Sleep mode can help you get a full eight hours of restful, natural sleep by activating the mode when you get in bed. The more you use it, the better the results will be, so even if the start time of your job changes regularly, SleepHub™ can still help you achieve the natural sleep you need through repeated nightly or daily use.

If your busy work schedule means you have less than eight hours to sleep each night, you can use Easy Sleep mode which customises the Deep Sleep cycle to however many hours you can allow for a restful sleep.

On the other hand, If you’re working multiple jobs and have a fractured schedule with shorter time allowances for sleeping, you can use Fall Asleep mode for two hours of deep, energising sleep. And for the moments when you find you have some additional downtime, there’s Power Nap mode which will give guide you into a nap for a duration of 30, 45 or 60 minutes 

Thanks to the technology contained in SleepHub™ which leverages the scientific relationship between sound and sleep, shift workers can begin to manage their sleep which could lead to an improvement in quality of life, wellbeing, and productivity.