Workers who suffer from sleep-related disorders may not only be less productive but also have a greater risk of workplace injuries than their well-rested colleagues. The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine has undertaken a campaign to educate workers about how sleep disorders affect them on the job.
According to the organization, chronic insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders in the United States, affecting approximately a quarter of all workers.
An estimated 40 million workers suffer from a condition called obstructive sleep apnea. This causes breathing pauses during sleep, leading to interrupted sleep, fatigue and drowsiness. As many as 18 million apnea sufferers have moderate to severe sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is more dangerous than chronic insomnia, because it is strongly linked to a high risk of dozing off the next day. A person with sleep apnea may suffer from extreme sleepiness and may be more likely to nod off while operating machinery or driving a vehicle.
Sleep apnea is also linked to obesity, which is associated with cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke and other conditions. Some of the common predictors of sleep apnea are obesity, depression, work stress, the use of certain medications and certain medical conditions.
Given the loss of productivity and risk of injuries caused by sleep problems, employers would be wise to make sure employee wellness programs address sleep disorders.
Michael Parsons is an Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer, representing injured workers in the metro Atlanta region and helping them recover the workers’ compensation benefits that they have earned.