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Shift Work Overview

Symptoms & Diagnosis: Shift Work


There are many signs and symptoms that patients with shift work may exhibit. The list below describes many of the symptoms that are common amongst patients with shift work. For more information on the individual symptoms, please visit one of the websites listed on the left-hand side of the page.

  • Difficulty falling and staying asleep
  • Difficulty waking up
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Daytime Sleepiness
  • Chronic Drowsiness
  • Irritability


Typically, the patients primary care doctor will evaluate any symptoms that could be related to shift work. In rare situations, if the symptoms are severe and frequent enough, the doctor will recommend for the patient to see a sleep specialist. These doctors specialize in diagnosing patients suffering from sleep disorders and will be responsible for the treating of the patient. In many cases, people with shift work can identify the symptoms themselves. The questionnaire and tests listed below are useful for determining whether or not someone may be suffering from shift work.


A polysomnogram, or PSG, is a painless and procedure which requires the patient to go to sleep as they normally would, except sensors will be placed on the patients finger, limbs, chest, face, and scalp. These sensors will record the patients brain activity, eye movement, muscle activity, breathing rate, heart rate, blood oxygen levels, and the amount of air that is being inhaled and exhaled. Using this information a sleep specialist can then make a plan for the patients treatment.

Multiple Sleep Latency Test

The Multiple Sleep Latency Test, or MLST, is a machine that is used to measure how long it takes for the patient to fall asleep.

  1. Do you have trouble sleeping or are you severely tired?
  2. Is this problem due to a schedule that requires you to work during normal sleep hours?
  3. Have you had a work-related sleep problem for at least a month?
  4. Has this problem effected your social, family, or work life?

If your answers to the questions above were yes, then you may have shift work disorder.

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NAMCP and or this website does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. NAMCP does not endorse or imply endorsement of the content on any linked website. This website is to be used as an informational resource. With any health related concern, consult with your physician or healthcare professional.