Proactive fatigue countermeasures
Think about it: the next 15 years of your professional career, you will spend 4 to 6 entire years in bed. This resting phase is essential for mental and physical recovery of your brain and body, and is directly linked to safety, productivity, health, and wellbeing. Our Work Hard, Sleep Hard strategies, help you and your colleagues to recover more efficiently and therefore increases overall brain performance and resilience to fatigue risks.
What is fatigue?
Employee fatigue is a top-10 HSE Human and Organizational factors issue because it increases the risk for human errors to occur. In general, fatigue can be defined as a feeling of tiredness and an inability to perform work effectively. Although there are individual differences in how fatigue affects alertness and performance, nobody is immune from its effects. Compared to a person who is well rested, a highly fatigued employee will be less alert, less able to mentally process information, will have slower reaction times, and less work situation awareness (Alhola et al., 2007). These factors combined lower productivity and increase the risk of work-related errors and accidents (Uehli et al., 2014).
Why do we sleep?
We sleep up to 30 years of our lives. High quality sleep is essential for mental and physical recovery. This is due to the fact that many of the major restorative functions in the body occur mostly and in some cases only during sleep. Examples of these restorative functions are: tissue repair, muscle growth, growth hormone release, and cleaning of the brain. High quality sleep is essential for your body ensure optimal physical and mental recovery, and to perform safely.
“When I sleep better I have more energy, I’m more focused and my performance is better. Also, I’m in a better mood when I’m well rested, I laugh more.”
– Night Fit participant
“Enhanced sleep quality helps me concentrate better on tasks, and results in faster troubleshooting of daily issues and problems. Also it helps me being in a better mood, not feeling stressed. Overall, it results in better productivity, more happy/satisfied/friendly people.”
– Night Fit participant
Sleep, brain performance, and safety
Besides the effects on the physical health of our body, high quality sleep is also important for our brain to function optimally. Our brain is a highly active organ, which weighs only 2% of the total body weight, but consumes over 20% of all oxygen and glucose (Jain et al., 2010). When not able to get the required number of hours of sleep, our brain’s neurons are less able to communicate effectively, leading to reduced alertness, situational awareness, and problem solving ability.
“Many problems seem to look difficult when you are tired, but if you sleep good the same problems are easy to solve.”
– Night Fit participant
According to large fatigue related studies:
- Excessive sleepy or fatigued workers are over two-thirds (60 – 70%) more likely to be involved in accidents than well-rested and alert individuals). (Swaen et al., 2003; Uehli et., 2014)
- Approximately 13% of all work-related injuries can be attributed to sleep problems. (Uehli et., 2014)
Sleep enhancement and safety
When a company enhances the quality of sleep from it’s personnel from poor to moderate or from moderate to good, will mean that performance and safety related abilities, such as the problem-solving skills, alertness, and motivation of the workforce, will go up. This will help to further reduce human error risks and to optimize shift work performance and safety. Click here for more information about shift work and safety.
Night Fit: The benefits
The reduced number of suboptimal sleepers will contribute to increased productivity, performance, and safety outcomes. In addition, the sleep-related medical and absenteeism costs will be reduced. This means that optimizing sleep not only enhances wellbeing and safety, it will also have a direct financial benefit.
Enhanced sleep quality will immediately result in improved work force alertness, problem solving, memory, and situational awareness, leading to a reduction of human error risks. In addition, communication skills will go up. Overall, a safer and more efficient work environment is created.
Many of the major restorative functions in the body such as tissue repair, muscle growth, immune system functioning, and cleaning of the brain occur during sleep. Enhanced sleep quality of the workforce ensures a more optimal physical and mental recovery, helping them to remain fit and healthy.
Sleep enhancement has direct effect on mood and mental well-being. After a good night’s sleep, employees will be in a better mood, will be more resilient towards stress, and can cope better with negative events. Overall, better sleep leads to better physical and mental well-being.
For further reading, please read our blog about sleep, fatigue and process safety.