Some 30 percent of American adults are sleep deprived, a study showed. According to the study, that means 40.6 million working Americans sleep for six hours or less daily (The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours).
The adults who are most at risk of sleep deprivation do overnight shifts. They usually work in warehouses, healthcare and transportation. This leads to increased risks to both the health of the working adults and the safety of the general public. Lack of sleep affects a person’s health and ability to function optimally.
Signs that you are sleep deprived include:
You have a hard time making simple decisions. Whether to sit near the window of a bus or not, or whether to order your food now or later becomes overwhelming to you, because your mind is on hold.
Difficulty adjusting to changes: You have a set schedule and then something suddenly pops up. If you can’t adjust to change, which normally happens many times a day, your brain may be functioning at a less than optimal level.
Vulnerability to colds: You are less healthy when you continually go through your days being sleep deprived and this makes you more vulnerable to infections.
What Employers Can Do
Employers can benefit if their workers are not sleep deprived, because their employees will work at peak levels enhancing quality of their work and avoiding accidents that may be harmful to the business of the employer. To encourage good sleeping habits of their workers, employers can: Limit the number of times an employee does the graveyard shift in a row.
Provide wellness training specifying the health benefits of good sleep habits.
Provide a work atmosphere that can minimize stress but maximize output. Stress makes employees fatigued causing them to make more mistakes, incur injury and be absent more frequently. Healthcare costs can double and up to $300 billion a year is lost in productivity, Health Advocate says.
What You Can Do
Have a fixed bedtime schedule and stick to it.
Avoid things that keep you from sleeping, such as watching TV or listening to rock music in bed.
Choose foods that enhance sleep. Cherries, whether fresh or dried, are vitamin rich and have melatonin, which is a natural body substance that helps you to sleep fitfully. Other choices are carbohydrates like whole grain cereal and dairy such as non-fat milk. These foods contain tryptophan which also helps induce sleep. Other tryptophan containing foods are honey and bananas.
Turn off all mobile phones or anything that might wake you up at night.
Create a relaxing atmosphere in your bedroom that induces sleep. Dim lighting is advisable. If reading helps you to sleep, just have one lamp with a good wattage so you can read. Candle scents can also help. Some people become sleepy with certain sounds. If you like the sound of water, go online and look for water fountain sounds. If you like birds, look for tweeting bird sounds.