Sleep deprivation is an issue that is often ignored, yet frequently the root cause of decreased productivity, accidents, incidents and mistakes which cost companies billions of dollars each year, reports . Sleep deprivation is much more dangerous than you might realize.
Here are 10 real dangers associated with a sleep-deprived workforce:
1. Decreased communication: In one study, researchers noted that sleep deprived individuals drop the intensity of their voices; pause for long intervals without apparent reason; enunciate very poorly or mumble instructions inaudibly; mispronounce, slur or run words together; and repeat themselves or lose their place in a sentence sequence.
2. Performance deteriorates: Performance declines frequently include increased compensatory efforts on activities, decreased vigilance and slower response time. Sleep deprived individuals have poor insight into their performance deficits and the performance deficits worsen as time on task increases.
3. Increased risk distraction: Sleep-deprived individuals have been shown to have trouble maintaining focus on tasks, keeping track of events, maintaining interest in outcomes and attending to activities judged to be non-essential.
4. Driving/Using tools impairment: Twenty-two hours of sleep deprivation results in neurobehavioral performance impairments that are comparable to a 0.08 percent blood alcohol level (legally drunk in the United States).
5. Increased number of errors: The cognitive detriments of sleep deprivation increase concurrently with a worker’s time on a given task, resulting in an increased number of errors.
6. Poor cognitive assimilation and memory: Short-term and working memory declines are associated with sleep deprivation and result in a decreased ability to develop and update strategies based on new information.
7. Poor behavior: Inappropriate mood-related behavior often occurs in outbursts, one of these outbursts can be enough to destroy the positive culture of a work environment.
8. Greater risk-taking behavior: Brain imaging studies have shown that sleep deprivation was associated with increased activation of brain regions related for risky decision making, while areas that control rationale and logical thinking show lower levels of activation.
9. Inability to make adjustments: Flexible thinking, preservation on thoughts and actions, updating strategies based on new information, and innovation are all negatively impacted by sleep deprivation.
10. Effects of sleep deprivation compounded: Four or more nights of partial sleep deprivation containing less than 7 hours of sleep per night can be equivalent to a total night of sleep deprivation. A single night of total sleep deprivation can affect functioning for up to two weeks.
When you have sleep-deprived or fatigued workers, productivity levels and quality of work will be compromised. Furthermore, you create an environment where it becomes not a matter of if your workplace will have an accident or incident but a matter of when, and to what magnitude. Eventually, our biological drive to compensate for sleep deprivation wins, and the loser might be your workers, your employer or even you.