sleep foundation

Shift Work Disorder

The National Sleep Foundation

Medically Reviewed by

The National Sleep Foundation

Written by

The National Sleep Foundation

If your doctor has prescribed medications for your shift work disorder to help you stay alert on the job (a wakefulness-promoting medication) or sleep when you’re off duty (a sleep aid), it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions.

Take the proper dosage exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Medications can have side effects and need to be taken the proper way, or they can be ineffective and even worsen your sleep problem.

Before prescribing one of these medications, your doctor will review your health history, your current symptoms, and learn about any medications you’re currently taking. This is an important step because there are certain health conditions and drug interactions to consider. Medications for treating excessive sleepiness and insomnia as well as other medications for other ailments can have side effects, so it’s very important to learn about these side effects first, and take note of any changes or symptoms you notice when taking them.

It’s important to know that medications that help you stay alert do not make up for the lack of sleep; your body still needs the proper amount of sleep to function well whether or not you take these medications.

Even if you do take medications for shift work disorder, make sure to also implement behavioral changes as well. Medications for excessive sleepiness or insomnia shouldn’t be thought of as a long-term solution, but rather as a temporary way to help alleviate your symptoms. Behavioral changes are important for long-term healthy sleep.