Does Sleep Deprivation Cause Work Injuries?
Most people occasionally experience a night or two of lost sleep. What happens when sleep deprivation becomes a constant issue, though? Does it affect your ability to safely work?
According to data from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, around 40 million people in the United States experience long-term sleep disorders. The National Safety Council reports that about four out of every 10 individuals do not get adequate sleep. This means many employees come to work fatigued, which is a risk factor for workplace accidents and injuries.
Workers who have insomnia, sleep apnea, depression, PTSD, narcolepsy, or other related conditions may find it difficult to concentrate. Focusing becomes increasingly difficult for people who have trouble falling or staying asleep. As a result, those people become much more likely to make errors at work or be unable to perform their job duties as expected. No matter the industry, sleep deprivation in workers is a real hazard.
Some Employees Lose Sleep Because of Their Work
An employee’s health condition is not the only reason for on-the-job sleep deprivation. Some sleep disturbances are caused by the occupation itself. For instance, jobs in health care, law enforcement, trucking, and industrial operations require employees to work long shifts. Swing shifts, long shifts, double shifts, and excessive commutes can disrupt an employee’s sleep patterns and cause dangerous symptoms.
Although less common, sleep disorders can arise from work itself. An individual who gets hurt on the job and gains significant amounts of weight may be diagnosed with sleep apnea. Someone who has experienced trauma at work may be unable to get a whole night of sleep.
What Are Signs of Sleep Deprivation?
Loss of sleep manifests itself differently in people. Some individuals become very depressed and moody. Others find it challenging to make decisions. Many may feel weak and have trouble lifting objects or performing routine tasks.
Another issue linked to sleep deprivation is a reduced immune system. Exhausted workers may be more apt to get sick and use their paid time off (PTO) hours. Having a weakened immune system can exacerbate other problems. Workers who get too little sleep may increase their risk of developing cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes.
How Can Workers Prevent Sleep Deprivation?
Employees who struggle with lingering sleep problems have a few options for getting the rest they need. Some solutions include:
- Taking time off. Using PTO hours can help you catch up on sleep. Workers should not be afraid to use any PTO hours they have been given to spend time away from the job.
- Practicing sleep hygiene routines. Making minor sleep hygiene tweaks, like not drinking caffeine after lunch or eating a lighter dinner, can help you sleep.
- Talking with a medical professional. Seeking the help of a doctor can be a wise first step to diagnosing a sleep disorder.
- Avoiding shift work. If possible, workers who have been negatively affected by working swing shifts should look into other shifts. Those who cannot avoid shift work may want to get on a schedule that allows them to have a regular bedtime.
- Leaving the office at the end of work. Employees should feel comfortable clocking out after putting in their full workday rather than working too much overtime.
It can be challenging for many people to say “no” to working extra shifts or longer hours, particularly if they need money. However, sleeping should take precedence.
Workers’ Compensation for Sleep-Related Injuries
Workers’ Compensation is given to employees who have been hurt on the job. Workers’ Compensation covers medical expenses related to the injury and a portion of the worker’s pay while they are unable to perform their job duties.
Employees who experience chronic sleep deprivation would have to prove that their sleep deprivation is work-related. This may be challenging.
Sleep deprivation can cause workplace injuries, and a sleep disorder could also result from a workplace injury. Someone in chronic pain for weeks or months after a workplace accident may have trouble sleeping. Workers’ Compensation benefits may cover the cost of treating the sleep problem directly associated with the workplace injury.
Should I Contact a Lawyer?
You may want to talk with a lawyer if your Workers’ Compensation claim has been denied. A lawyer can help you understand your rights. They can also intervene if insurance companies or employers refuse to cover the costs of your workplace injury.
Piscataway Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Help Injured Sleep Deprived Workers Understand Their Rights
If you are having trouble with your Workers’ Compensation claim, speak with one of our Piscataway Workers’ Compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr. Call us at 732-537-8570 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We are located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, Colonia, Elizabeth, and Newark.