It's a problem for people who work overnights, rotating and early morning shifts.
Kim's work-at-night, sleep-during-the-day schedule has thrown off his hormones and body clock.
"It is not a natural phenomenon for someone to go completely against the grain and kind of fly in the face of mother nature if you will," Dr. Lacey says.
So, when Joe needs to sleep, he can't.
"The end result is that you have cumulative and significant sleep debt and sleep deprivation," Dr. Lacey says. "And, sleep deprivation can cause some very serious medical problems."
Going without sufficient sleep can cause concentration problems, fatigue, depression, and it raises your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses. To try to head that off, Joe Kim has volunteered for a study at NeuroTrials to test an experimental new drug for people with shift work sleep disorder.Dr. Lacey says the test medication is a non-amphetamine, designed to stimulate wake-promoting transmitters in the brain to help shift workers stay alert on the job
You would take it as-needed, he says, and it's designed to stay in your system for only about 6 or 7 hours.
"So that the person, when they get off their shift can now fall asleep without the difficulties because of the medication no longer in their system."