You certainly wouldn’t want your employees coming to work drunk. Yet when workers lose even just one night’s sleep, or feel extreme fatigue, their cognitive capacity and productivity are impaired much like someone who has had too much to drink, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal.
A sleepy worker is less attentive and might not react as quickly to a critical situation. A fatigued worker might make costly mistakes and cause workplace injuries. Safety, productivity and outcome could be at risk.
Numerous studies recommend that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Like adequate nutrition and physical activity, sleep is vital to our well-being and work productivity.
Despite the slower pace of our Colorado lifestyle, the nonstop 24/7 nature of the world today encourages longer hours, busier lives and continual access to entertainment. Many people sleep less just to keep up with everything.
Employers can create an infrastructure and develop training in the workplace to help employees get the sleep and rest they need. The following information is ideal for sharing in the break room or kitchen area.
Employers should …
- Keep long work shifts and overtime to a minimum.
- Consider different shift lengths for different intensity of work, such as physically- or mentally-demanding work during shorter shifts and light work during longer shifts.
Employees should …
- Stick to a consistent sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day (even on weekends).
- Try to exercise at least 30 minutes on most days, but no later than two or three hours before bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine and nicotine, especially in the late afternoon.
- Avoid large meals and beverages late at night.
- Relax before bed by reading or listening to music.
- Take a hot bath before bed.
- Have a good sleeping environment, and eliminate any distractions — such as noises or bright lights.
While there is no treatment for night-shift issues, following are a few night-shift coping methods to add to the above recommendations:
- Wear dark glasses to block out the sunlight while driving home during the day.
- Increase total amount of sleep by adding naps before or after work, to lengthen the amount of time allotted for sleep during the day.
- Be consistent with shifts, to allow your body’s biological clock to adjust to a nighttime work schedule.
- When sleeping during the day, eliminate sound and light distractions in your bedroom (blackout shades are helpful).
- Keep to the same bedtime and wake-time schedule, even on weekends.
While not all of these recommendations are possible in every setting, small changes can improve workers’ sleep – decreasing their levels of fatigue and increasing their productivity.
With sleep, rest and employers’ support, employees can become a “dream team” that is focused, safety-minded, productive and successful.
If you have additional questions or concerns, Pinnacol policyholders can contact their Pinnacol Safety Consultant or call the Safety-On-Call Hotline at 303.361.4700 or 888.501.4752.