Managing Fatigue in the Workplace
According to the American Sleep Association, about 40 percent of working-age adults report short sleep duration. The UK National Health Service (NHS) reported that 1 in 3 people suffer from poor sleep. What are the effects, associated causes, prevention and the health benefits of remedying sleep deprivation and fatigue?
The effects of fatigue on your body
- Experiencing “microsleeps” or very brief episodes of sleep while awake
- Cognitive impairment
- Severe yawning
- Significantly increased effect of alcohol
- An increased risk of anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes
- Shorter life expectancy
Top causes of sleep deprivation and fatigue
- Poor bedroom set up (electrical appliances, light pollution, temperature and excessive noise)
- Bad nutrition and over consumption of caffeine and energy drinks
- Stress and anxiety
- Physical health conditions
- Unsuitable PPE and clothing being worn for activity and temperature management
- Excessive workloads
- Long periods at computers
Ways to prevent sleep deprivation and fatigue in the workplace
Studies have shown that sleep-deprived persons tested in a driving simulator or performing hand-eye coordination tasks produced the same results or worse than those who were intoxicated. This highlights the potentially dangerous effect of sleep deprivation and fatigue in the workplace.
The following points offer ways your employees can remedy this problem:
- Turn off electronics while sleeping
- Avoid television or using electronic devices before going to bed
- Try light stretching before bed
- Drink caffeine-free herbal tea before bed
- Increase water consumption throughout the day
- Avoid large meals or exercise before bed
- Wear appropriate clothing at work to promote suitable ventilation and reduce unnecessary strain and fatigue
- Aim for eight hours of sleep a night
- Review workload and deadlines with direct supervisors to avoid physical and mental overexertion
- Assess day-to-day work tasks to allow for regular breaks
Benefits and Support
Effective sleep can have a dramatic effect on the way a person functions on a day-to-day basis. Stress levels can be reduced leading to greater cognitive ability and increased levels of happiness and motivation. The chances of developing diabetes can also be reduced with appropriate periods of sleep helping maintain a healthy heart and weight.
Online resources can help you evaluate if you could be experiencing insomnia, although medical consultation should always be considered when experiencing prolonged fatigue.
These infographics from the National Safety Council may be useful to have at your worksite to help draw attention to and serve as a reminder of workplace fatigue.