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Excessive Sleepiness and Workplace Accidents

Did you know that 35% of Americans don’t get the recommended amount of sleep, between seven and nine hours? What’s more, almost 20% of Americans experience excessive daytime sleepiness. Eventually, this kind of sleep deprivation and fatigue can have a negative consequence on people’s personal and professional life since lack of sleep affects both physical and mental health.

In general, sleep-deprived people are more likely to suffer from stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, depression, and anxiety. Whereas, when it comes to the workplace, sleep deprivation can reduce productivity and task management and increase the risk of accidents that could result in either injury or death.

Hence, we may conclude that the relationship between workplace accidents and sleep is real. So, read on to find out more:

The Link between Workplace Accidents and Sleep Deprivation

As we already noted, sleep deprivation can increase the likelihood of workplace accidents. The truth is, statistics show that the risk of being involved in a workplace accident is higher by 70% in employees who are overly sleepy compared to those who got the recommended amount of sleep.

Furthermore, those who suffer from insomnia are also at higher risk to have accidents related to work than those who don’t have sleep disorders. And, a study conducted on more than 50,000 workers showed that employees who reported having disrupted sleep were at double the risk to die in a workplace accident.

How can Sleep Deprivation Lead to Workplace Accidents?

Namely, as less sleep causes cognitive impairment, from memory to reflexes, it leads to slow reaction time. In other words, sleep-deprived people aren’t able to make fast and accurate decisions. Therefore, there’s a higher chance of making mistakes and accidents.

Furthermore, in many industries, safety gets compromised in the case of sleep-deprived employees including shift workers, medical residents, truck drivers, pilots, etc. Precisely speaking, sleep-deprived drivers are at high risk of drowsy driving as noted by a study that shows that those who slept less than six hours are 33% more likely to have an accident compared to those who slept seven or eight hours.

Similarly, as medical workers usually do long or night shifts, their work is also at high risk of being affected by drowsiness. According to a study, nurses who worked overnight made 32% more math errors compared to those who did the day shift.

Other Sleep Deprivation Impacts on the Workplace

Sleep deprivation can not only increase the risk of workplace accidents that may result in injury or even death, but it can also lead to other problems such as:

Increased Chance of Missing Work

Although it sounds surprising, the US loses a whopping 1.23 million working days a year as a result of lack of sleep. The truth is, sleep-deprived employees are at double risk of missing work, compared to their colleagues who had a good night’s sleep.

Poor Communication and Team Work

People can get quite irritable, easily annoyed, anxious, and even depressed when they don’t get the recommended amount of sleep. Thus, sleep deprivation can negatively affect teamwork, cooperation, and communication.

Reduced Individual and Group Performance

As sleep deprivation hampers cognitive performance, employees who lack sleep experience difficulties performing and finishing tasks in the workplace. These workers often find it hard to concentrate and follow instructions which leads to reduced performance.

The bottom line, sleep deprivation can negatively affect both personal and professional life which is why good sleep hygiene is important for keeping good physical and mental health.

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