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Negative Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Workers

Americans lead busy lives that often leave them without adequate sleep. According to doctors, the average adult requires between 7.5-8 hours of sleep to function at full capacity. Unfortunately, according to studies, nearly two-thirds of Americans are not meeting their sleep needs. The problem of sleep deprivation is often overlooked because its effects are not always noticeable. It can be difficult to identify sleep deprivations as a direct cause of an incident, even though it is often an underlying factor in workplace accidents and decreased productivity.

Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Below are some common negative effects of sleep deprivation on workers.

Lack of Communication
Studies have shown that workers who are sleep deprived do not communicate as well as rested workers. Lack of sleep causes them to lower their voice, pause between sentences, mumble, mispronounce words, repeat themselves, and lose their train of thought.

Decline in Performance
Tired workers see drastic declines in their performance and daily output levels. On average, sleep deprived workers display performance levels in the 9th percentile compared to rested workers.

Prone to Distractions
Research has shown an overlap in symptoms of sleep deprivation and ADHD. Some of those symptoms include an inability to: focus, keep track of events, attend non-essential activities, and maintain an interest in outcomes.

Driving Impairments
The effects of driver fatigue or drowsy driving have been well-documented. In fact, over 100,000 car accidents each year are caused at least in part by driver fatigue. Workers who are required to drive or operate heavy machinery such as forklifts are at much higher risk of being involved in an accident if they are tired. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can slow down reaction times as much as being legally intoxicated.

Decreased Cognitive Ability
Sleep deprivation is associated with a reduced ability to grasp and analyze new information. It has also been shown to decrease memory capacity and the ability to make adjustments when presented with new information. When workers are not able to think up to their normal capacity, they are more prone to making mistakes that lead to accidents.

Behavior Modification
Workers who are not getting enough sleep tend to be more prone to mood swings. They can become socially withdrawn or even erupt in violent outbursts. Common behavioral signs of sleep deprivation include, irritability, impatience, disregard for societal standards, and inappropriate conduct toward co-workers.

Increased Risk Taking
Sleep deprived workers are more likely to engage is risky behaviors. In fact, studies have shown that when people are deprived of sleep, there is an increase in activity in the part of the brain that prompts risky decision and a decrease in activity in the part of the brain that controls rational thinking. When sleep deprived workers are making riskier decisions, accidents are bound to happen.

Sleep Deprivation Leads To Accidents

One night without sleep can impact how your brain functions for up to two weeks. While it is uncommon for workers to go an entire night without sleeping, getting too little sleep on consecutive nights has a cumulative effect on cognitive abilities. Just four nights in a row of reduced sleep can be the equivalent of an entirely sleepless night.

The effects of sleep deprivation compound not only within each individual worker, but on the workforce at large. A single sleep deprived worker is more prone to causing an accident, but that likelihood increased exponentially when almost two out of three workers are suffering from sleep deprivation.

If you have been injured in a workplace accident, contact Arnold & Itkin today to learn about your legal rights.

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