“Couldn’t sleep at all last night…”

Anyone remember the oldie by Bobby Lewis called Tossin’ and Turnin’? Didn’t think so, BUT I’m not going to let that stop me today. Why? Because today’s blog is about sleep; more importantly lack of it and the dangers it creates.

Sleep deprivation may mean different things for different people BUT the one sure thing is that it’s not good. Lack of shut eye is linked to some major health issues including an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression. And guess what? Lack of sleep can cause accidents!

In the workplace, that’s a problem. Consider these points. Sleep deprived workers communicate less, have slower response times, decreased vigilance, lack focus, make more mistakes, experience short term or working memory loss, exhibit inappropriate moodiness and the inability to adjust and are likely to take greater risks. And let’s talk about driving impairment. Twenty-two hours of sleep deprivation results in neurobehavioral performance impairments that are comparable to an 0.08 percent blood alcohol level.

In this 24/7 world we live in, everyone is trying to do more, faster, harder, non-stop. At one time, not so long ago, being able to function on only a few hours of sleep was like a badge of honor; gave you bragging rights. That’s not a badge I want to wear anymore. There’s too much at stake – for me and for my co-workers.

The National Safety Council just unveiled a Fatigue Cost Calculator tool to help address workers’ fatigue levels and begin to address sleep disorders. Input the type of industry, number of employees and the shifts they work and the tool calculates the annual costs of sleep disorders. And, oh, by the way, the estimated cost to U.S. employers is estimated (by one source) as about $18 billion!

NSC and Brigham Health (who partnered with NSC on this project) know it’s about a lot more than the money. In addition to using the tool, employers should establish sleep education programs and voluntary screening for sleep disorders. Employers need to recognize sleep disorders as a true health problem. Otherwise it won’t be a matter of if your workplace has a sleep deprived related accident but when and to what consequence.

Peaceful dreams.

Posted by MJ Thomas

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