Lots of Americans work the graveyard shift with many alternating days and nights. That kind of routine where the body has trouble adjusting to a sleep schedule can be really hard on your health.
"They have loss of attention, loss of performance capabilities across the night. Also the drive home in the morning they could fall asleep while driving or they don't react as quickly to situations," said Naomi Rodgers, a researcher at University of Pennsylvania.
Now, researchers are testing a new drug that could make staying awake less tiring. It may sound familiar. It is a wake up pill called Modafinil, which is sold under the name Provigil. Unlike coffee or amphetamines that can make you feel wired, they say Modanifil keeps you awake without side effects.
"With Modafinil, you don't get that buzz or high so that's why it's thought not to be addictive and also doesn't affect your sleep following taking it across the night shift," said Rodgers.
Researchers say they do not see this replacing sleep, but particularly for shift workers who must stay alert for long hours, it might be an option. Modafinil is currently FDA approved to treat Narcolepsy, but studies are underway for a number of other uses including age-related memory decline, Alzheimer's Disease, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Depression.
For more information on sleepiness or sleep problems (click here) to see the National Center on Sleep Disorders' website.