This entry in our “What about…?” comorbid conditions series discusses how shift work disorder has a defining influence on the development and progression of cancer. In order to understand how poor sleep influences shift work disorder and cancer, first you need to understand what sleep does for us at the cellular level, and how shift work leads to circadian disruption.
Sleep changes among teens are related to shifts in their circadian rhythms at the onset of puberty. Most tweens and teens experience what is considered a delayed sleep phase as the result of swift and complex changes to the adolescent brain which are associated with its final development. They are often described, in fact, as “night owls.” This means their rhythms undergo a slight biological reset that makes it more natural for them to abide a later schedule.While most younger children and adults may more naturally feel sleepy between 9 and 10pm, teens are far less likely to feel sleepy until at least 11pm. For some, the rhythms shift as late as 1am. These changes are hormonally related and have little to do with poor self management.
Whatever the cause of your daytime fatigue and nighttime sleep problems, it’s important to take action to correct them. Insomnia and sleep deprivation aren’t problems to ignore. They don’t typically go away on their own and, in fact, will worsen over time, leading to chronic illness, higher risks for accidents and mistakes, mental health problems, and much more.
Sleep deprivation across the lifespan of motherhood: Untreated chronic sleep deprivation for any person does not end well, especially if it’s left untreated for years. Let’s go in with eyes wide open and identify all the myriad ways in which Moms can—and will—lose sleep during their careers as mothers. Some of these causes for sleep problems are just part of life, to be sure, but sleep debt left to accrue over the years is a key reason for mothers to seriously consider getting help for their sleep problems.