When Should OSA Patients Sleep?

When Should OSA Patients Sleep?

A recent article about a lawsuit in NYC is raising some eyebrows. It seems an anesthesiologist is suing his former employer after resigning due to what he believes is discrimination for having sleep apnea.  While this is an extreme case, it does highlight how dangerous sleep apnea can be in our daily lives. The lawsuit alleges that the anesthesiologist asked for special accommodations for his sleep schedule due to apnea, but was not granted them and suffered as a consequence.Ethical questions aside, it does raise some interesting questions. For example, if you do have sleep apnea, what kind of sleep schedule should you be on? Should you be working a night shift, or attempting to sleep during “normal” sleep hours, e.g. during the night?The bad news here is there is no right or wrong answer, however this can also be the good news depending on how you look at it, because it gives you the leeway to decide what kind of schedule you’d like to work. Unfortunately, your sleep apnea may or may not cooperate with your schedule.So, what can you do if you need to determine whether or not to take a night shift job or be ‘on call’?  The answer to this question is as individual as the person asking it. If you are interested in shift or on-call work, we recommend you speak with your doctor and determine if your sleep apnea will allow you to work overnight shifts. It may or may not be possible.In the case of the man suing his former employer, it will be up to the courts to determine if he truly was being discriminated against and if he should have been allowed to be exempt from overnight shifts.  Hopefully in a similar situation you would not need to go that far to ensure your own safety and the safety of those around you.  In the case of the man in the lawsuit, he did provide a doctor’s note explaining the situation, but it was not accepted, however we still recommend this as a first line of defense.If your doctor does determine your sleep pattern can be altered to accommodate night shift work, be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions for sleep, i.e, do not go to sleep without your sleep apnea device, sleep in a bed (don’t crash on the couch or an armchair), set a set schedule for sleep, sleep in a darkened room, eliminate as much outside distraction as possible, etc.If your doctor is against night shift work, it is important that you listen to them and either speak to your employer or find a new position that will allow you to work around your sleep schedule. Your health will always be more important than your job.

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