If changing jobs isn't an option, modifying behavior may help, expert says
TUESDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- To make ends meet these days, many Americans are sacrificing sleep to work night shifts or juggle two jobs.
Research suggests, though, that lack of sleep can lead to memory problems, depression, cardiovascular concerns, cancer and increased risk of accidents.
"In the last couple of years, I've seen more overworked patients taking on extra shifts or second jobs," Dr. Raman Malhotra, an assistant professor of neurology and director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Saint Louis University, said in a university news release. "For someone who is suffering from work-related sleep issues, changing jobs isn't always an option. Instead, we've got to offer solutions to make the best of the current situation."
Malhotra offered some suggestions for people who have sleep problems because of irregular work schedules.
For instance, if you work the night shift and sleep during the day, make sure your blinds are closed and reduce other sources of light in the bedroom. Being exposed to sunlight after a night shift can confuse the brain so you should find ways to reduce sunlight exposure before you go to bed.
"Wear sunglasses on the way home from work," Malhotra said. "And, conversely, before work, spend time in a well-lit room."
Among the other tips:
For some people, Malhotra said, medication can help with sleep difficulties.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has more about shift work.
-- Robert Preidt
SOURCE: Saint Louis University Medical Center, news release, March 2, 2010
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