Having over-worked, over-tired workers has become somewhat the norm for many businesses. Research indicates that 13% of workplace injuries can be attributed to fatigue, meaning that fatigue is having adverse effects in the workplace.

Sleep factors employees (and employers!) should be aware of.

Our work shifts often require us to override our natural sleep patterns. Those most at risk work the night shift, long shifts, or irregular shifts. Other factors to note:

  • Safety performance decreases as employees become tired.
  • 62% of night shift workers complain about sleep loss.
  • Employees on rotating shifts are particularly vulnerable because they cannot adapt their "body clocks" to an alternative sleep pattern.

Drowsy driving is impaired driving. When you drive tired, fatigued or drowsy you are basically driving under the influence of “fatigue.” Research gathered by the NSC shows:

  • You are three times more likely to be in a car crash if you are fatigued.
  • Losing even two hours of sleep is similar to the effect of having three beers.
  • Being awake for more than 20 hours is the equivalent of being legally drunk.

Sleep is vital to our overall health. On average, adults need seven to nine hours of sleep every day; however, according to the National Health Interview Survey, 30% report averaging less than six hours. What that can mean:

  • Chronic sleep-deprivation causes depression, obesity, cardiovascular disease and other illnesses.
  • More than 70 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder.

The NSC provides some ways you can avoid fatigue.

  • Get enough sleep and provide for adequate rest between physically or cognitively demanding activities.
  • Talk to your doctor about getting screened for sleeping disorders.
  • Align your natural body clock with your work schedule; some people who regularly fly through different time zones, for example, use melatonin to reset their circadian rhythms.
  • If you work the night shift, try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule even on your days off, and be sure to use blackout curtains to keep your bedroom dark.
  • Instead of tossing and turning, give this sleep habits assessment tool a try and find out what’s keeping you awake;.

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