Fatigue is a major concern for safety in the workplace because it causes people to become distracted during their work day. In fact, fatigue can cost a company thousands of dollars per employee every year due to productivity losses and mistakes. Fatigue is mostly caused by simply a lack of sleep. Not getting an adequate amount of sleep every night absolutely kills productivity and has wide-spread negative impacts on a person’s life. At work, this can be extremely dangerous, as your capacity to do your job can deteriorate as much as 50%!
The Circadian Rhythm
Learning about the circadian rhythm can help you understand why you have dips in your energy level throughout your work day. Generally, there are 2 dips in alertness during a 24 hour period, one being 2:00-6:00 am and the other being 1:00-4:00 pm. This schedule of alertness and sleepiness is contributed by our biological clock and the ways we respond to light and darkness. Disruptions to our natural rhythm like shift work, being on-call, and insomnia have huge consequences on our productivity and alertness during the day.
How lack of sleep can affect your work day:
- Irritability– less patient and able to cope with problems that arise
- Memory and learning problems – an inability to learn & retain new information
- Vision problems – limited eyesight
- Slowed reactions– inability to respond appropriately
- Immune system issues – more likely to become ill
- Bad decision-making – unable to reason
- Distractedness – difficulty focusing on the task at hand
- Difficulty communicating – difficulty speaking and expressing thoughts clearly
- Pain – sore muscles and joints
- Clumsiness – more likely to fall and/or drop tools or equipment
- Depression – general sadness
- Headaches – can trigger migraines
Sleeping is the Only Solution
Getting adequate sleep is a simple solution for avoiding fatigue-related losses and for becoming more healthy in general. Attempts to boost productivity in the post-lunch hours are mostly done in vain. Bright lights, coffee, energy drinks, and cold air have little to no effect in tricking the biological clock. The only thing that is truly effective is getting a good night’s sleep. Sleep is the only thing that can restore energy, reasoning abilities, and speed up your reaction time so that you’re not a hazard in the workplace.