Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Sun Shines In

I finished up with my errands this afternoon. It was a nice warm afternoon, and I even worked up a little sweat. While I was out driving around, I heard a radio spot for a new drug that treats some new-to-me malady called "Shift Work Disorder"

Now I've heard bits and pieces of news over the years about shift work and it's medical consequences, but this was the first time I've ever heard of a disorder named for the malady, or a drug to treat it for that matter. Truth be told, shift work isn't a problem...not in my world. It's Rotating shift work where trouble sets in.

Typically rotating shift work goes like this: Three/four weeks of day shift, rotate to swing shift for three/four weeks, then onto graveyard shift for another three/four weeks. Repeat until comatose.

I've heard news bits about Rotating Shift Work tripling heart attack risk. Maybe twenty years ago I tried a little experiment with my own schedule. I worked four days a week, but not the same shift nightly. It went like this: Grave/Swing, Grave/Swing, done, three day weekend. That day between the two Grave/Swings was a 24 hour off period.

My "thinking" at the time was that I was sneaking in an extra day off in the middle of my week. Looking back, I'm surprised that my boss allowed me to even try this stunt! I had to be way too dangerous to be anywhere near when I was operating...especially during those two Swing Shifts! I was clearly a rolling hazard, not to mention totally destroying my short term memory!

My experiment was a total failure...or maybe a total success. Either way I learned that the human body knows best...millions of years of synching the body's circadian rhythms with the rising and setting Sun, have hard wired humans to rely on their daily schedule of sleep at the same time every day...every night...but same time/same time.

So...I can't remember given the fog of time, how many weeks my experiment lasted, but I do believe no animals or lift operators were harmed in the commission of said experiment!

Since my experiment I've religiously practiced a regimen of dark curtains, and a regular bed-time. I keep this schedule even on my weekends.

I only reset my BodyClock once in the Fall at the beginning of the season, and once in the Spring, when ski season ends.  The Fall reset from sleeping nights to sleeping days is the easy one. Changing back in Springtime is a longer affair lasting about a month, whereas the start of the season's reset is done in a week's time.

Here's the warnings for the drug, Nuvigil (get it? New Vigil?)...from a "Sponsored Page" on WebMD. I've gotta say hearing this over the radio was much more chilling than just reading the words.

NUVIGIL may cause serious side effects including a serious rash or a serious allergic reaction that may affect parts of your body such as your liver or blood cells, and may result in hospitalization and be life-threatening. If you develop a skin rash, hives, sores in your mouth, blisters, swelling, peeling, or yellowing of the skin or eyes, trouble swallowing or breathing, dark urine, or fever, stop taking NUVIGIL and call your doctor right away or get emergency help.
  • Stop taking NUVIGIL and call your doctor or get emergency help if you get any of the following serious side effects:
    • Mental (psychiatric) symptoms, including: depression, feeling anxious, sensing things that are not really there, increase in activity (mania), thoughts of suicide, aggression, or other mental problems.
    • Symptoms of a heart problem, including: chest pain, abnormal heart beat, and trouble breathing.
  • Common side effects of NUVIGIL are headache, nausea, dizziness, and trouble sleeping. These are not all the side effects of NUVIGIL.
  • Tell your doctor if you get any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away. Talk to your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
Yikes! My little experiment doesn't seem so dire anymore!

Morning Update
I wrote the above late Monday afternoon. Curiosity got the best of me Tuesday morning and I searched for the Nuvigil Commercial online. The video was the best I could find. Consumer Reports' producers went a little easy on Nuvigil and it's maker, Cephalon in my opinion...the second sound bite from the commercial ended before the scary part that made my blood run cold when I heard it...the part about heart attacks, life threatening side effects, and emergency medical attention being needed right away.

My search enlightened me to the extent that Nuvigil is a revamped medication that's been introduced in time to cover the sunset of Provigil's patent. Provigil was Cephalon's predecessor for treating Narcolepsy and "Shift Work Disorder"

I'll just set a cast in stone bedtime and stick to it like glue, thank you very much!

Side Effects? Only Sweet Dreams!

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