Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Wake-Up Squad

Hooray for re-certification!! I am officially qualified as a life saver. (Although I haven't quite figured out how to find the belly button in order to do the Heimlich without tickling the victim.) We finished an hour early, so I happily got in the car and drove off into the sunset. I was just aimlessly listening to commercials on the radio when a phrase caught my attention: "Shift Work Sleep Disorder". The phrase was then followed by an ad in which "The Wake-Up Squad" urges you to be evaluated for said disorder, and then be treated using the medication Nuvigil (Armodafinil) by Cephalon.

My first reaction was, this is a disorder?? It's obvious that doing shift work or 24 hour call can mess up your circadian rhythm and make you tired, etc. But when I looked up the signs and symptoms at the Cleveland Clinic just includes difficulty concentrating, headaches and lack of energy. Well DUH. The consequences of this supposed disorder included increased accidents, increased work-related errors, increased sick leave and increased irritability, mood problems, etc.

I don't get it - aren't these just the same things we all experience if we are truly sleep-deprived and forced to function anyways? Isn't sleep deprivation a good enough term to cover this issue? I did look up the word "disorder" and it is vague enough, I suppose: disorder /dis·or·der/ (dis-or´der) a derangement or abnormality of function; a morbid physical or mental state. I guess sleep deprivation qualifies as a disorder, but I just don't think it's exclusive to shift work. Having a baby makes you sleep deprived. So does staying up for 4 days straight to play video games.

And the other thing is, what's the deal with this brand new medication for it? It might just be me, but when I really can't sleep, a good old fashioned Benadryl does the trick. (When I really REALLY can't sleep, I give up and start re-reading Harry Potter. JK Rowling, I love you.) The drug apparently was going for FDA approval for jet lag (which, again, to me fits the same criteria of sleep deprivation), and got turned down in March of this year.

So, my question is, who decides when something is a disorder? How do they decide when something is distinctive enough to warrant a separate classification? And will someone please tell me if I'm allowed to get time off for my impending, inevitable Shift Work Disorder starting in July? Because I'm pretty sure it's going to be a doozy.

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