There are many occupational hazards that employees are exposed to daily. Surprisingly, one that is often overlooked is not a chemical or a machine – it’s sleep deprivation. Per the National Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation “increases the likelihood of a workplace accident by 70%. The effects of fatigue have often been compared to the effects of alcohol, resulting in impaired judgment and poor performance.”(AmericanSafetyCouncil.com)
About one-third of adults are not getting enough sleep. This can keep us from meeting work productivity goals, and even worse, can cause safety risks:
- Impaired Motor Skills
- Risk-Taking and Poor Decision-Making
- Poor Memory and Information Processing
- Falling Asleep on the Job
- Inability to Deal with Stress
Over the long-term, sleep-deprivation can also cause health problems, like obesity, worsening of disorders (like diabetes, and epilepsy), heart disease, digestion issues, depression, cancer, reproductive problems, dementia and sleep disorders.
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) emphasizes the importance of employers and co-workers monitoring health and safety in the workplace. This should include knowing the signs of sleep deprivation. Being tired is not synonymous with being sleep-deprived. A tired worker might yawn, but signs of sleep deprivation are different. Take notice of these symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Complaints of head and body pain
- Mood swings
- Emotional outbursts
- Loss of balance or hand-eye coordination
For safety reasons, if you or another worker is showing these symptoms, the employer needs to be notified immediately.
Many people don’t realize that adults need between 7 and 10 hours of sleep per night, “but the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that a third of Americans sleep fewer than seven hours a night.”(CNN.com)
Here are some tips to help you get the sleep you need:
Develop a bedtime routine. Do something to help you relax before bedtime, like reading a book, or listening to soothing music.
Try to have a regular sleep schedule, going to bed at the same time every night, and getting up at the same time every morning. This will help keep your biological clock in check.
Keep your bedroom cool. We sleep better in cool temperatures.
Exercise at the same time every day, but not within 3 hours of bedtime.
Avoid eating large meals, or drinking caffeine close to bedtime.
Drinking alcohol before bed may seem like it would help you sleep better. However, it actually reduces the quality of your rest, constantly pulling you out of the deeper stages of sleep.
Do not watch TV or use electronic devices within two hours of bedtime. The National Sleep Foundation says “blue light affects the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone, more than any other wavelength of light.” This causes you to take longer to fall asleep, and keeps you from having the proper amount of REM sleep (dream state).
If you are tossing and turning, and can’t fall asleep after 15 minutes, get out of bed, keep the lights down low, and do something simple that won’t take much brain-power, like folding clothes.
If you snore, it’s possible that you have sleep apnea, which means you’re not getting the sound sleep you need. Sleep apnea causes you to wake up over and over, whether you realize it or not. If you think you may have sleep apnea, contact your doctor for a sleep study.
Don’t hit that snooze button! Your body will drop back into REM sleep, and will not have time to reach the end of that cycle, causing you to wake up groggy, and stay that way longer.
If you had trouble sleeping during the night, don’t take a long nap during the day to catch up. If you nap, don’t sleep long enough to enter a deep sleep cycle. This will mess up your body clock even more.
The Law Offices of David L. Hood – Representing Injured Workers in South Carolina
The Law Offices of David L. Hood have been fighting for the rights of injured workers in North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Georgetown, Charleston and all across South Carolina for over 25 years. We have a dedicated team that will strive to take care of your claim professionally and treat you with respect. Over the years we’ve represented hundreds of injured workers and their families, working hard to get them the medical treatment and compensation they deserve.
To learn more about what we can do for you, contact our offices to set up a free initial consultation. If you choose to work with us, we will handle your case on a contingent fee basis, which means you pay nothing unless we make a recovery for you. To get in touch with us, you can call our offices at (843) 491-6025 or email us here.
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