Twisting the night away: a review of the neurobiology, genetics, diagnosis, and treatment of shift work disorder.


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Abstract

Although not all individuals who work outside of standard daytime hours develop physical and psychiatric issues, there is a substantial portion of shift workers who develop shift work disorder. Shift work disorder is due to a misalignment between an individual's endogenous circadian rhythms and environmental stimuli, and can have potentially serious consequences to an individual's health and quality of life. This article reviews the neurobiological and genetic underpinnings of shift work disorder, and describes how desynchronization of the molecular clock may lead to both physical and psychiatric illnesses. Diagnostic tools and treatment guidelines to address the circadian misalignment, excessive sleepiness, and insomnia experienced by patients with shift work disorder are also discussed.

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