Another topic for National Safety Month, is fatigue. Often times, people don't think about the seriousness of fatigue and sleep deprivation. Sleep is one of the main activities that keeps us healthy, however, nearly 70 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder. On average, adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night, but according to the National Health Interview Survey, 30% report averaging less than six hours of sleep each night.
How Does Sleep Deprivation Affect You?
When you start losing sleep regularly, it is easy to become sleep deprived. Chronic sleep deprivation can cause anxiety, depression, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and other health issues. Aside from affecting your mental and physical health, when you are sleep deprived and continue to work your normal schedule, your overall safety performance decreases. Nearly 45% of workers are sleep-deprived. Those that work night shifts, long shifts, or irregular shifts are considered to be more at risk, according to the National Safety Council.
Sleep deprivation can lead to fatigue and drowsy driving, which is considered impaired driving. When you are fatigued, you are three times more likely to be involved in a car crash. When you are sleepy, you aren't as alert or focused on driving, daily work tasks, etc., making your more prone to injuries and accidents.
How Can You Prevent Fatigue?
Do your best to get enough sleep. A good way to do this is to set a certain bed time for yourself and make it a non-negotiable.
Get adequate rest between physically or cognitively demanding activities.
Talk to your doctor about getting screened for various sleep disorders.
Align your natural body clock with your work schedule.
Use a natural sleep aid, such as melatonin or lavender.
If you work the night shift, try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule even on your off days.
Use blackout curtains to keep your bedroom dark, so that your body isn't thrown off if it's still light outside.
Limit your caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine intake before bedtime.
Get regular exercise, but not within three hours of bedtime.
Nap only if necessary, as naps can interfere with your ability to sleep at night and mess with your overall sleep schedule.