Safety and health newsletter for the Oregon construction industry

May 14, 2012

man sleeping in a chair at work

Need sleep?

Are you getting six or fewer hours of sleep per night? If so, you're not alone – but that's not the good news. In fact, there is no good news if you're chronically sleep deprived.

According to a recent issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), 30 percent of American workers don't get enough sleep – and a lack of sleep can have serious, sometimes fatal, consequences for them and those around them. The study defined sleep deprivation or "short sleep duration" as six or fewer hours per night in a 24-hour period. The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep per night for healthy adults.

According to the MMWR study, those who usually worked a night shift had a much higher prevalence of short sleep duration (44.0 percent, representing approximately 2.2 million night shift workers) than those who worked the day shift (28.8 percent, representing approximately 28.3 million day-shift workers). Even more sleep-deprived were night-shift workers in the transportation and warehousing (69.7 percent) and health-care and social assistance (52.3 percent) industries.

In the construction industry by comparison, 27.9 percent of regular day-shift workers reported short sleep duration and 38.3 percent of those who worked on a shift other than the day shift reported short sleep duration.

What's to lose without sleep?

Short sleep duration has been implicated with long list of bad safety and health effects, including workplace and vehicle accidents, impaired job performance, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.

And now you can add neurological disease to the list. Scientists have long known about the correlation between the disruption of your biological clock and neurological disease, but it wasn't clear which came first – until now. A new study by Oregon State University and Oregon Health and Science University, published in the March issue of Neurobiology of Disease, finds that disruptions of circadian rhythms – the biological clocks found in many animals – can cause accelerated neurodegeneration, loss of motor function, and premature death.


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