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Shift work sleep disorder is a common problem in industrialized countries because of the need for occupations and services to continue to function 24 hours/day. Approximately 20% of employed adults in the United States are engaged in shift work. Shift work sleep disorder is diagnosed if there is a report of insomnia or excessive sleepiness for at least 3 months associated with a recurring work schedule that overlaps the usual time for sleep. Shift work is associated with an increased occurrence of metabolic disorders, such as insulin resistance, diabetes, dyslipidemia, and metabolic syndrome, and it has been implicated in weight gain and cognitive impairment. There is evidence of increased absenteeism in night workers compared with day workers. A planned sleep schedule, timed bright light exposure, timed melatonin administration, and stimulants or drugs promoting alertness can be used to manage shift work sleep disorder. Jet lag is characterized by a misalignment between internal circadian rhythms and local time caused by rapid travel across at least two time zones. Not all travelers experience jet lag; risk factors include age, number of time zones crossed, and circadian preference. Management includes timed melatonin along with optional timed and dosed bright light exposure. Written permission from the American Academy of Family Physicians is required for reproduction of this material in whole or in part in any form or medium.


Deepa Burman. Sleep Disorders: Circadian Rhythm Sleep-Wake Disorders. FP essentials. 2017 Sep;460:33-36

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PMID: 28845960

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