Sleep deprivation is a danger in the workplace.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, about a third of Americans get insufficient sleep. Fatigue in the workplace is of particular concern for shift workers, night workers, drivers, people who work extended hours, are on call, or have a rotating shift schedule. Research has shown that inadequate sleep can affect worker’s ability to remain healthy and perform their work safely – and in safety-sensitive situations, can even put others in harm’s way.
Lack of sleep or even poor quality sleep can increase the risk of work accidents, car crashes, and mistakes in judgments. This is on top of the obvious decreased productivity. What’s more, lack of sleep can negatively impact the immune system and increase the risk of illness and absenteeism across the business.
For employers, the number of hours worked by employees and their scheduled hours affect the ability to get enough sleep. Long working hours may mean that the individual sacrifices sleep to fulfill responsibilities outside of work. This can alter their natural sleep clock – and ultimately hinder the business. Employers may see frequent errors or increased health care costs if they find employees are not sleeping for long enough. Guarding the time to relax and sleep is imperative to maintaining a healthy and safe workforce. These tips can help:
- Include at least 10 hours of consecutive time away from work to allow for seven to eight hours of sleep.
- Allow frequent and brief rest breaks during demanding work tasks.
- Review accidents and injuries to determine if fatigue contributed to the root cause.
For employees, standard and effective recommendations for better sleep include:
- Schedule enough time to sleep
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine prior to sleeping
- Exercise regularly
- Sleep in a cool, dark, and quiet place