Sleep Deprivation at the Workplace
Are you sleepless in the saddle? Sleep deprivation at the workplace affects your health and your productivity.
Plus, Rosekind says shift workers also could include business travelers who
often cross time zones and people who get up very early in the morning to make
a one-hour-plus commute to work.
Experts say shift workers are often hardest hit by sleep problems. Their
biological clocks are confused, and when they try to get shuteye while the rest
of the world is active, they can get disturbed by neighborhood noises, phone
calls, kids at home, or a ringing doorbell.
Meir Kryger, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Manitoba in
Winnipeg, Canada, says people who don't sleep well can exhibit the following
- Frequent sleepiness
- Nodding off at meetings or while driving
- Difficulty with concentration
- Lapses in memory
- Poor performance, worse than usual
- Mood changes, such as being more snappy and irritable
These symptoms, when manifested at work, can have mild to grave
consequences, depending on the job. "If you're sitting around and you're at a
computer, it's not a big deal, but if you're operating a motor vehicle, it is a
big deal," says Kryger.
For people who think they might have a sleep problem, here are some
suggested first steps of action from Kryger and Rosekind:
- Get evaluated by your primary health care provider to see if you have a
treatable medical condition.
- Educate yourself about sleep issues, and take advantage of sleep diaries
and other resources available at the web sites of respectable organizations,
such as the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and the National Sleep
- To find a board-certified sleep specialist or center, turn to the AASM web
site, or ask your doctor for a referral.
- Evaluate out your priorities. How important is doing shift work for
- Explore your own workplace options. Try talking with your supervisor or
your union representatives about other jobs that could be done during the
Shift work is only one of the problems related to slumber that concerns
employees and their employers. The AASM reports at least 84 sleep