Free Consultation: 610-594-1600

What Is Shift Work Disorder?

tired night worker

Shift disorder, also known as shift work disorder (SWD), is a condition that affects individuals who work nontraditional hours like 5:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. It is commonly seen in professions like healthcare, transportation, manufacturing, and hospitality. This disorder disrupts the body’s natural circadian rhythm, leading to physical and mental health issues and workplace accidents.

What Are the Symptoms of SWD?

Symptoms of shift disorder vary from person to person but generally revolve around disruptions in sleep patterns and difficulties adjusting to irregular work schedules. A primary symptom is insomnia, where individuals cannot fall asleep or stay asleep during the day when they should be resting. This lack of quality sleep can lead to daytime fatigue, making it hard to stay awake and alert during shifts. Additionally, SWD can cause irritability and difficulty concentrating, impacting job performance and overall well-being.

Another common symptom of SWD is gastrointestinal issues, like indigestion, bloating, and constipation. They often develop from unhealthy eating habits and disruptions in the body’s natural digestive processes caused by working odd hours. Employees with SWD also experience mood swings, depression, or anxiety, as the constant disruption to their sleep-wake cycle can take a toll on mental health.

How Is Shift Disorder Diagnosed and Treated?

Diagnosing shift disorder typically involves thoroughly evaluating the individual’s medical history, sleep patterns, and work schedule. Healthcare providers may also perform sleep studies and other tests.

Treatment options may include lifestyle modifications:

  • Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule.
  • Creating a sleep-friendly environment.
  • Practicing relaxation techniques before bedtime.

Workers with SWD are often prescribed medications to help regulate sleep or alleviate insomnia or depression symptoms. We recommend prioritizing self-care and prioritizing your health, but that can be difficult with irregular work schedules.

Employers can play a vital role in supporting employees with shift disorder. Providing training about sleep hygiene and offering flexible work schedules or accommodations can combat the effects of shift disorder on employees’ health and performance. Creating a supportive work environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their concerns and seeking assistance is essential for promoting workplace well-being.

How Can I Prove That I Have Shift Disorder?

Documentation of consistent symptoms and their impact on your daily life is crucial for proving a claim of SWD. Keep a detailed diary noting sleep patterns, difficulties falling or staying asleep, and daytime drowsiness. It is also wise to seek medical evaluation from a sleep specialist who can assess your sleep-wake cycles.

You must also provide information about your work schedule and any relevant factors affecting your sleep. If the disorder caused a workplace accident, contact any eyewitnesses who may have seen what happened or are willing to testify about your symptoms. Keep organized medical diagnosis and treatment records, including payment receipts for related expenses.

Can Shift Disorder Impact Workers’ Compensation Claims?

Shift disorder can affect workers’ compensation claims, especially when the condition directly relates to the employee’s job duties and work schedule and the worker received medical care. When SWD leads to job-related accidents or injuries due to impaired cognitive function or decreased alertness, workers’ compensation could cover medical expenses and lost wages.

Interpreting the workers’ compensation process can be complex, particularly when you have a condition without obvious physical symptoms like broken legs. While many SWD claims are approved in a timely manner, others are delayed or denied. The appeals process can be intimidating, especially when large companies and insurance providers are involved.

Our West Chester Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC Can Help if You Have SWD

If you are struggling with shift disorder, seek legal guidance from our skilled West Chester workers’ compensation lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC. Call 610-594-1600 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Exton, Pennsylvania, we serve clients in Downingtown, West Chester, Exton, Coatesville, Phoenixville, Malvern, Lyndell, Wagontown, Uwchlan Township, Parkesburg, Chester Springs, Lancaster County, Reading, and Morgantown.