Consider these two scenarios; First every day as I go and from work, I use public means. I have observed that in the morning, about half of the passengers in the vehicle are usually asleep while others keep on yawning and stretching. Have you witnessed these too? I once, boarded a bus from town to Donholm via Mombasa Road. I sat next to a guy who was supposed to alight at Pipeline but since he was asleep, he passed his stage and found himself in town again. Ever witnessed this?
The second instance, I was given a ride by with a colleague on a Friday after attending a meeting. Just as we approached Waiyaki way, I heard a loud bang only to realize we had knocked another
vehicle from behind. This guy was actually asleep and says he doesn’t know what had happened. I am sure you have heard such accidents or witnessed them.
Whether it’s due to workloads, working side jobs for more income or after work activities the result is the same – many people are arriving on the job overly-tired or sleep-deprived. Sleep deprivation or fatigue can affect a worker’s manual handiness, reaction time, and alertness. Fatigue or lack of sleep can affect judgment and safety. The consequences of sleepiness on the job are felt by both the employee and its costing employer’s money and, in some cases, putting the public’s safety at risk.
Studies show that workers are not only getting less sleep than they should; they’re getting less than they used to. The real danger arises when workers don’t realize they’re tired and go to work as if they were fine.
Sleep deprivation induces significant reductions in performance and alertness. Our ability to sustain attention and maintain peak cognitive performance has to do with the total amount of sleep you manage to get over several days. Reducing your night time sleep by as little as 1.5 hours for just one night could result in a reduction of daytime alertness by as much as 32 percent. For example you may find yourself talking to a boss or colleague in the office and find that they are not attentive because he/ she is sleepy. Also, ever found MP’s on camera sleeping in parliament? Many are culprits of sleep since they sleep little. More so for technical workers; engineers and IT inadequate amounts of sleep can run a higher risk of being injured, making mistakes or otherwise compromising workplace safety.
Decreased alertness and excessive daytime sleepiness impair your memory and your cognitive ability—your ability to think and process information. If you get at least 8 hours of sleep a night, your level of alertness should remain stable throughout the day, but if you have a sleep disorder or get less than that for several days, you start building a sleep deficit that makes it more difficult for the brain to function. Executives I’ve observed tend to burn the candle at both ends, with 7 am breakfast meetings and dinners that run late, for days and days. Most people can’t get to sleep without some wind-down time, even if they are very tired, so these executives may not doze off until 2 in the morning. If they average 4 hours of sleep a night for four or five days, they develop the same level of cognitive impairment as if they’d been awake for 24 hours—equivalent to legal drunkenness. This greatly lengthens reaction time, impedes judgment, and interferes with problem solving
The Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha) estimates conservatively that each year drowsy drivers are responsible for at least 50,000 automobile crashes, 20,000 injuries, and 1,050 fatalities. Most of us think we’re in control of sleep—that we choose when to go to sleep and when to wake up. The fact is that when we are drowsy, the brain can seize control involuntarily. When the homeostatic pressure to sleep becomes high enough, a couple thousand neurons in the brain’s “sleep switch” ignite, as discovered by Dr. Clif Saper at Harvard Medical School. Once that happens, sleep seizes the brain like a pilot grabbing the controls. If you’re behind the wheel of a car at the time, it takes just three or four seconds to be off the road.
You may experience a poor quality of life. For example, you might be unable to participate in certain activities that require sustained attention, like going to the movies, seeing your child in a school play, or watching a favorite TV show. In some cases, disruption of a bed partner’s sleep due to a sleep disorder may cause significant problems for the relationship (for example, separate bedrooms, conflicts, and moodiness).
Everyone should take responsibility for getting enough rest; by deciding how much sleep one needs to perform optimally. Also, examine your off-work activities to see how they’re impacting sleep. If you feel that you haven’t gotten enough sleep to function well at work, take a sick or vacation day to recuperate. During work shift, notice when you lose concentration or start to nod off. When you find your attention wandering, get up and stretch or walk around or grab a quick snack. Casual chats may help maintain alertness and improve rather than detract of productivity. Since dehydration increases the effect of fatigue, workers should drink more water during the day.
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