In my job I have to work shifts. I work two days from noon till 8 pm then have a day off, then two days from 8 pm till 4 am, then a day off, then two days from 4 am to noon, followed by another day off. This has gone on for four years, and for most of that time I have not been able to sleep properly. I can’t sleep during the day on night shift, or at night when on day shift. I’m getting irritable, lose my temper easily, can’t relax and have headaches. What should I do?
You have an atrocious job, with an employer who has no conception of the effects such irregular hours can have on an employee.
There are many jobs which require workers to be on site 24 hours a day, but rapidly rotating shifts do not give the body’s natural clock and biorhythm any chance to catch up. You are suffering from perpetual jetlag, and I am surprised that you do not have more symptoms than you have mentioned.
I suggest that you join with other employees in approaching your employer with a request for a more reasonable roster. This does not mean that you avoid night work, but you change shifts less often.
For reasons of health and employee productivity (you won’t work well if you are tired and irritable) you should spend four to six weeks on each shift, and then change to another shift. With a prolonged period on one shift, you can adjust your sleep patterns to a regular one, be it night or day.
On days off, you should try to keep roughly the same sleep times. This can interfere with your family and social life, so if there is some special function you need to alter your sleep time for, ask your doctor to prescribe a mild sleeping tablet (eg. Stillnox, Normison, Halcion) to help you get off to sleep.
Far too many shift workers are being forced to work unreasonable rosters, with rapid changes in shifts. I believe this is something that unions should be investigating, and acting to protect their workers.
I get eight hours sleep a night, but always have dark circles under my eyes, and my eyes get bloodshot in the evening. I am also very fatigued. I would appreciate your professional opinion.
Dark circles under the eye have no specific diagnostic meaning, and many people are just unlucky enough to develop them far more easily than others. If you are ill, suffering from an allergy, or under stress, they occur more readily, but it is impossible to make any diagnosis or form a reasonable opinion about a person from that symptom alone.
In your case, it may be possible to link the widely varied symptoms together. Your bloodshot eyes may also be the result of an allergy, as dust, pollutants and pollen can enter the eye during the day, and cause a reacrion in the eye to make them red, itchy and watery. They can recover overnight, as the closed eyes
prevent any more irritants from entering. Chronic fatigue may also be the result of allergy problems, so all your symptoms may be due to the one cause. Discuss this possibility further with your general practitioner.