Workplace fatigue is an increasing problem in the United States. More than 40% of workers currently complain that they feel sleep-deprived throughout the day. People tend to make light of this shocking statistic, but in reality it is one to lose sleep over since fatigued worker productivity costs employers anywhere from $1,200 to upwards of $3,100 or more per employee annually. There are many factors that lead to fatigue and while some are uncontrollable, many can be eliminated to ensure a proper night’s rest. Long work hours, extended or irregular shifts cause stress on the body physically, mentally, and emotionally. This stress is what we know as fatigue.
The National Sleep Foundation explains that our bodies naturally follow a circadian rhythm. This circadian rhythm is our 24-hour internal clock. When it is dark at night, your eyes send a signal to your brain that it is time to feel tired. Your brain then sends a signal to your body to release melatonin, which actually makes your body tired. That’s why your circadian rhythm tends to coincide with the cycle of daytime and nighttime. Extended shift and demanding work schedules may overlap with this change of light and disrupt the body’s natural cycle. This is what tends to cause increased fatigue, stress and lack of concentration.
Worker fatigue increases the risk for illnesses and injuries. Accident and injury rates are 18% greater during evening shifts and 30% greater during night shifts when compared to day shifts. Research indicates that working a 12-hour day correlates with a 37% increased risk of injury. Studies have shown that fatigue can increase a worker’s hazard exposure by:
- Reducing mental and physical functioning,
- Impairing judgement and concentration,
- Lowering motivation,
- Slowing reaction time, and
- Increasing risk-taking behavior.
Do you sleep more on your days off rather than work days? Seven hours is the minimum amount of time recommended for sleep but some people need more and others function on seven or less. A way to tell if you need more sleep is to allow yourself to sleep as much as you want on vacation days. After a few days your sleep duration will become steady and you will be able to calculate your minimum amount of daily sleep.
Here are some tips you can do to reduce sleep deprivation
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule
- Don’t eat big meals close to bedtime
- Regular exercise improves your sleep habits but avoid exercising close to your bedtime
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine before bed because the effects of any of these can disturb your sleep
- Check with your doctor about side effects from any medication you may be taking to see if the medicine could contribute to your sleep deprivation
- Make your bedroom a quiet, dark place where it is not too hot or cold which will help you relax, wind down and get to sleep sooner
- If you experience daytime sleepiness or your partner witnesses you snoring or pauses in breathing while sleeping, you may have sleep apnea and should see a sleep specialist to run tests
- Limit the use of electronics and screens 1 hour before bed
- Establish a regular bedtime routine during the week and keep it consistent
- Clear your mind and meditate to help improve your focus, reduce stress and relieve anxiety
- Avoid stressful activities before bed so you don’t associate your bedroom and sleeping with anxiety
- Don’t go to bed unless you are truly sleepy – lying in bed and trying to sleep when you are not tired can make it harder for you to fall asleep
Frontier Industrial Corp. is committed to workplace and worker safety on every project.