Q: How can lack of sleep affect work safety?
A: Anyone who has had little to no sleep in a single night knows how exhausted they are the following day. Those who do not get seven to nine hours of sleep regularly can ultimately become sleep-deprived, which has wide-ranging effects on the body. The issue becomes more complex for people who do shift work.
According to the National Safety Council’s 2017 Survey on Fatigue in the Workplace, 1 in 4 workers have admitted to falling asleep while at work. Although falling asleep is a sign of fatigue, there are other impairments from lack of sleep.
Fatigue causes problems with thinking and concentrating. Problem-solving skills are diminished. Memory is negatively impacted. Lack of sleep affects the body’s ability to maintain balance and decreases coordination. Each of these conditions can place workers at risk while driving, working in the field or handling machines.
There are personal health concerns with fatigue as well. The body’s immune system is weakened, it can cause high blood pressure and increased the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Employees may miss more work due to aggravated conditions.
The good news is we can encourage employees to get better sleep and provide them with a few tips for better rest:
- Screen time before bed
- Distracting lights and sounds
- Nicotine and caffeine in the evenings
- Alcohol before bed
- Sugary foods and refined carbohydrates
- Hitting the snooze button
- Be consistent with a bedtime routine
- Make your room cool
- Make your bed comfortable
- Exercise during the day
- Wind down
- Clear your mind