Sleep Apnea and Shift Work

Is Shift Work Bad for Sleep Apnea?

Are Sleep Apnea and Shift Work linked together?

The duration of sleep after the night shift is reduced to between one and four hours, and sleep apnea makes the sleep unrefreshing.


Discovering the link between sleep apnea and shift work

Is there any connection between shift work and sleep apnea? This is the first question that I asked when I started to have problems to breathe properly in my sleep.

Sleep apnea and shift work was a bad combination not only for my health but for the safety and security of my work place. I was so tired at work that I could be thoughtless and produce an accident.

Anything that interferes with the amount and quality of sleep, as shift work does, can worsen sleep apnea symptoms.

Scientists have observed that night shift work significantly worsen the prevalence of sleep apnea events. The most dangerous work shift for a person with sleep apnea is fast rotating shift work.

Interesting is the fact that patients with mild obstructive sleep apnea tolerate a short-time sleep deprivation well. But patients with more severe disorder, the frequency of apneic events may be increased by sleep/wakefulness rhythm disturbances.


Side effects of shift work

Besides worsen sleep apnea, night shift work and the inversion of sleep-wake schedules has a variety of disruptive effects on the life styles, sleep and general health.

This include:

  • gastrointestinal disorder
  • cardiovascular disturbances
  • metabolic disturbances
  • diabetes
  • peptic ulcer
  • hypertension
  • myocardial infarction
  • breast cancer


Regarding this health problems, shift work and sleep apnea are the worst possible combination.

I have seen many of shift work side effects at some of my colleagues. Some have diabetes, others have ulcer, and others have excessive daytime sleepiness and loud snoring in the night.

Not to mention that I heard couple of cases of myocardial infarction and strokes at work. Rare, but it really exists.

What was the first solution for me ? You guessed it ! I quit my job!


Sleep Apnea Questionnaire

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