Lack Of Sleep Poses Risks For Workplace And Health
April 28, 2012

Lack Of Sleep Poses Risks For Workplace And Health

Jason Farmer for

A recent study by the CDC found that more than 40 million American workers, which are about 30 percent of the nation´s civilian workforce, are getting fewer than six hours of sleep per night.

The CDC says these sleep deprived workers are posing a real and potentially fatal risk to themselves and their coworkers by not getting a good seven to nine hours of sleep, the recommended amount by the National Sleep Foundation.

According to the CDC, in 2010 alone, a total of 4,547 workers died from occupational injuries, and approximately 49,000 died from illnesses that were work-related.

In the survey of more than 15,000 workers, the CDC found that some workers were more likely to be sleep deprived than others, depending on their occupation and the shift they worked. The study found that forty-four percent of those working the night-shift said they were not getting enough sleep. The rates of insufficient amounts of sleep were high among workers in the fields of healthcare and social assistance, and highest in the transportation and warehouse industries.

Author of the CDC study, Dr. Sara Luckhaupt, a medical officer in the division of surveillance, hazard evaluations, and field studies at the CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Washington, D.C. told Ryan Jaslow of CBS News, "Not surprisingly, workers who work the night shift are more likely to not get enough sleep". Dr. Luckhaupt also found that people who work more than 40 hours a week or have more than one job are also less likely to get enough sleep.

A March National Sleep Foundation poll found that 50 percent of pilots, 44 percent of truck drivers, and 29 percent of bus, taxi and limousine drivers reported rarely getting a good night's sleep before work.

An estimated 20% of vehicle crashes are linked to driving while drowsy, according to the CDC.

The CDC study found that those in the middle age groups of 30 to 44 years (31.6 percent) and 45 to 64 years (31.8 percent) were less likely to get the recommended amount of sleep than workers aged 18 to 29 years (26.5 percent) or older than 65 years (21.7 percent).

Dr. Michael J. Breus, a sleep expert and clinical psychologist, told WebMD that if you fall asleep in less than 10 minutes, you're probably sleep deprived.

Breus also told Jaslow, "If you hit the snooze button more than twice you are probably sleep-deprived."

The CDC´s Luckhaupt told WebMD that employers should take steps to ensure their workers are getting enough sleep. She suggests altering night shift schedules or limiting the number of consecutive shifts for employees.

In addition to safer workplace environments, research continues to confirm that getting the recommended amount of sleep is imperative for good health. A recent study found that people who don't get enough sleep run a significantly greater risk for developing diabetes and becoming obese.

Researchers from the American Heart Association have found that people who got about a third-less than the recommended amount of sleep ate over 500 additional calories a day on average. Lack of sleep was linked to important hormones that regulate appetite control and overeating.