Do you have trouble sleeping through the night? Do you wake up feeling unrested and consistently drowsy?
Constant daytime drowsiness is one of the leading symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the most common type of sleep apnea according to the American Sleep Apnea Association. Sleep apnea is a condition occurring when a person’s breathing pauses or decreases during the night due to blocked airways. Extreme snoring and sudden gasps are other common symptoms.
Although sleep apnea isn’t particularly devastating or dangerous, it has adverse effects on one’s life and responsibilities. Someone suffering from OSA will often feel impatient, irritable, forgetful and listless. If untreated, the condition leads to hard-to-treat headaches, severe depression and poor performance at work or school.
The long-term consequences of untreated sleep apnea are significant as well. The sleeping condition may cause or worsen heart disease, heart arrhythmias, heart failure, high blood pressure and strokes.
Furthermore, research shows a connection between shift work and sleep apnea. Shift work is the opposite of a nine-to-five schedule, often consisting of late-night or early-morning hours. Since shift work interrupts an already-damaged sleep cycle, it only compounds existing apnea side effects.
The number of apneic episodes per night can increase significantly, and sleep deprivation symptoms will only worsen.
It’s estimated that up to one-third of shift workers experience side effects severe enough to diagnose them with shift work disorder. Due to their interrupted sleep schedule, shift work disorder causes sufferers to struggle to stay awake, and to fall asleep.
Imbalanced biological clocks prevent workers from falling asleep, and it also disrupts digestive systems. These added complications make shift work and sleep apnea the Molotov cocktail of sleep deprivation.