A Tribute to Shift Workers — Keeping America Moving, 24 Hours a Day

Approximately 20 percent of U.S. workers are involved in some sort of shift-based or rotating schedule – that’s nearly 15 million people. And because our society is active 24 hours a day, many professions involve shift work, including mass transit workers, healthcare professionals, hospitality workers, manufacturing workers and protective services such as police, firefighters and first-responders. Working odd hours requires people to be awake and do work when their body's internal clock calls for sleep. This disruption in their body’s sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, can lead to a host of problems including a recognized – but often undiagnosed – medical condition called shift work disorder. It is estimated that shift work disorder may affect up to 25 percent of shift workers. Now, a new video  pays tribute to people who work non-traditional shifts, highlighting the impact of shift work disorder. View video here: It's Time to Shift Our Assumptions about Shift Work The video is brought to you by The Wake-Up Squad, an educational awareness campaign developed by Cephalon Inc., and designed to inform the community about shift work disorder. I am proud to be serving as the chair of this program because we have created a resource for people to learn more about this important and often under-recognized medical condition. Shift work disorder is a condition that occurs when your body's circadian rhythm or clock is out of sync with your work schedule. This disturbance can lead to excessive sleepiness during waking hours or insomnia, trouble sleeping during sleeping hours. People who suffer from the condition may experience sleepiness-related accidents, impairment in work performance and even worsening of heart and stomach issues. Realizing you or a loved one may be suffering from shift work disorder is an important first step in dealing with the condition. Through the website, TheWakeUpSquad.com, people at risk for shift work disorder and their loved ones can find information and resources about this disorder and you can register to take a simple assessment that you can use to discuss symptoms with a healthcare professional. I encourage you to learn more about the condition by speaking with a health care professional. For more information, visit www.TheWakeUpSquad.com. Mary Grace Umlauf, PhD, RN, FAAN is a sleep researcher and chair of the Wake-Up Squad. She is a spokesperson for this public disease education initiative and has been compensated by Cephalon for her time and expertise.