How Work May Be Threatening the Health of 70 Million Americans

By , Category : General Health

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Excessive Fatigue a Result of WorkSleep is extremely important for your overall health. Without sleep, your mental, physical, and emotional health is at risk. And, as you likely know from personal experience, it can affect your job. However, many people often put their jobs ahead of sleep. They seem to figure that sleep is only time that could be spent doing other important things—like putting in more work hours.

Let me tell you a short story about my friend Ted. See, Ted is an old college buddy who owns a marketing business and spends nearly 12 hours a day at work. Sounds crazy, right? The thing is, when Ted is not at work, he is still working. His smartphone is always by his side, and he constantly returns work e-mails and calls after he leaves the office. He doesn’t get to bed until after midnight, and he wakes up throughout the night, before his alarm helps him start his day again around 5 a.m.

Ted is not rested when his alarm sounds, and he feels fatigued and tired throughout his day. He even wishes that he could take a nap. But work calls.

Does this scenario sound familiar? If so, you may have excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS)—a core contributor to poor mental health and decreased productivity at work.

Study: 1 in 5 Employees Have Poor Sleep

It is estimated that 50–70 million American adults suffer from sleep disorders. I recently read an interesting report from the Global Corporate Challenge (GCC), an international employee health and performance organization. They observed more than 285,000 workers from more than 1,200 organizations. An astonishing one in five employees reported poor, very poor, or extremely poor sleep patterns. That’s 21% of the workers in the study!

The report connected EDS to many health and workplace concerns, such as workplace injuries, memory, and professional performance. Lack of sleep may also lead to obesity, high blood pressure, poor dietary patterns, and type 2 diabetes. Fatigue at work was also a concern for 93% of the sleep-deprived employees.

Why Are You Always Tired? What’s the Solution?

Before you take sleeping pills or supplements, it is best to understand the root of your sleep problems. Here are a few core reasons why you may be excessively tired:

Long Commutes

Many people commute for two to three hours a day. As a result, your workday is really 10 or 11 hours and that’s what leaves you feeling tired. You see, a recent University of Pennsylvania survey I found attributed sleep deprivation to long commutes and work hours in the office. It turns out that the later you start your workday, the longer you sleep. If you begin to work at 9 or 10 a.m., for example, you’ll average over seven hours of sleep; however, if you begin your workday at 6 a.m., you are only likely able to get six hours of rest. With long commutes also comes the greater chance that you, a sleep-deprived employee, may crash behind the wheel during your commute to and from work.

Overstressed

Do you leave the stress of your work at the office? In another recent study I came across, researchers found a strong connection between stress and insomnia. The study observed 2,892 people without a history of insomnia. As the researchers found, every additional stressor in your life can lead to a 19% increase in your chance of developing insomnia. You cannot always focus on work; it’s clearly not good for your health. It is important to take multiple breaks throughout your shift. Consider eating your lunch away from your desk, too, and take time for yourself on your lunch break or before or after work. Restorative yoga, qigong, and meditation are effective ways to de-stress and help you sleep at night.

EMF Frequencies

When do you get a chance to unplug? Work can have you glued to your computer and smartphone throughout the day. At home, you may continue to return work-related e-mails as you crawl into bed. Electromagnetic frequencies (EMF) and radiation, emitted from electronic devices, can disturb your sleep patterns and affect your immunity, stress, and adrenal gland function. How do you improve your sleep? Unplug and remove all electronics from your bedroom, including your Wi-Fi modem. To wake up in the morning, get an analog alarm clock instead of using your phone’s alarm app.

Plain and simple: better-quality sleep can only add to your performance at work. By getting some shut-eye, you will improve your productivity, which can mean fewer hours worked. You will make fewer mistakes at work and you will finish tasks faster with greater efficacy. It is a smarter business strategy, and it will reduce your stress and boost your overall health. It’s a win-win.

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Sources for Today’s Article:
Hall, A., “5 Ways Your Job Is Ruining Your Sleep,” The Huffington Post, December 30, 2014; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/29/poor-sleep-related-to-work_n_6341086.html?utm_hp_ref=healthy-living.
Pillai, V., et al., “Moderators and mediators of the relationship between stress and insomnia: stressor chronicity, cognitive intrusion, and coping,” SLEEP 2014; 37(7): 1199–1208.
“Many U.S. workers are sacrificing sleep for work hours, long commutes,” American Academy of Sleep Medicine, December 11, 2014; http://www.aasmnet.org/articles.aspx?id=5230.
“GCC Insights: Waking Up to the Sleep Problem Every Employer Is Facing,” Get the World Moving web site, December 17, 2014; http://info.gettheworldmoving.com/rs/globalcorporatechallenge/images/Sleep-insights-report.pdf.
“Why Is Sleep Important?” National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute web site; http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why, last accessed February 10, 2015.




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About the Author, Browse Adrian's Articles

Adrian has been working in the information publishing world since 1997. But when it comes to health information, he’s a self-admitted late bloomer. A couch potato since pre-school, Adrian was raised on TV, video games and a lifestyle that led to childhood obesity that followed him well into adulthood. But when he hit his forties, he decided enough was enough. He had a family to take care of and his days of overeating, under-exercising and inactivity were going to lead... Read Full Bio »