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July 12, 2021
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Sleep and Safety

Sleep deprivation directly affects safety performance.

Experts claim that approximately half of people are sleep deprived.

Sufficient sleep amounts to approximately eight hours of sleep per day.

Sleep deprivation is associated with the following symptoms that correlate directly to worker safety.

  • Decreased communication skills.
  • Deteriorating performance.
  • Inability to operate machinery safely.
  • Poor decision making.
  • Greater risk-taking behavior.

Lack of sleep can be as dangerous as alcohol impairment. Experts contend that when someone has been awake for 21 hours, he or she will perform at a level of impairment roughly the same as a person with a blood alcohol level of 0.08%, which is considered legally drunk.

The good news is that people can improve their sleep habits, which correlates to improved safety performance.

Experts at the National Sleep Foundation recommend the following:

  • Avoid sleeping in on weekends. Maintain your weekday sleep schedule.
  • Establish a regular relaxing routine to transition between waking and sleep.
  • Use your bed for sleeping. Avoid watching television or using laptops, tablets, and cellphones, which can impede the ability to relax, when it comes time to sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol for several hours before bedtime.
  • Make your bedroom sleep-friendly (dark, quiet, and comfortable).
  • Finish eating at least two to three hours before bedtime.
  • Exercise regularly and complete workouts a few hours before bedtime.
  • If you work the night sift, try to get at least two (2) three- to four-hour blocks of sleep during the day.
  • Take a nap. A short 20-minute nap or time with the eyes closed can improve energy, focus, and decision making.


(2015, Nov. 24). Sleep Deprivation is a Danger in the Workplace. Retrieved from

LaDuke, Phil (2014, April 25). OSHA Has No Regulation on Sleep Deprivation, But You Must Know Who is Fit for Duty. Retrieved from

Source: Joe Mlynek is president of Progressive Safety Services LLC, Port Clinton, OH:, and content creation expert for Safety Made Simple Inc., Olathe, KS;



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Safety Tip of the Week is edited by Managing Editor Tucker Scharfenberg and published each Monday by Grain Journal, Decatur, IL

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