According to a new study, not getting enough sleep can result in impaired memory and visual perception. The authors of the study likened the effects of sleep deprivation to those of intoxication. This implies that driving, operating machinery, or using power tools without enough sleep can be as dangerous as performing those activities while under the influence of alcohol.
Sleep deprivation impairs cognition and reaction time
The study was conducted under tightly controlled conditions. The researchers studied epileptic individuals who were preparing to undergo brain surgery. The patients were kept awake the entire night prior to surgery because lack of sleep can trigger epileptic seizures. Researchers found that brain activity slowed appreciably as the night wore on, as well as the brain’s ability to react to stimuli.
The lead author of the study stated: “We discovered that starving the body of sleep also robs neurons of the ability to function properly. This leads to cognitive lapses in how we perceive and react to the world around us.”
When lack of sleep leads to a work accident
Any person who does not get enough sleep can suffer an injury due to impaired concentration or focus. However, these types of workers are particularly vulnerable to accidents resulting from lack of sleep:
- Commercial drivers
- Construction workers
- Operators of heavy equipment
- Machinists and production workers
- Warehouse workers and forklift operators
But other workers can suffer injuries from lack of sleep as well, particularly those who work second- and third-shifts, such as nurses, police officers, firefighters, and all-night store clerks.
Lack of sleep and on-the-job fatigue are very costly to both workers and employers. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder and published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, states that more than 20 percent of American workers suffer occupational fatigue. This results in $136.4 billion in lost productivity and healthcare costs annually
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance system
Unlike a personal injury case, in a workers’ compensation claim you do not have to show that you were to blame for the accident that injured you. So even if your lack of sleep resulted from having to tend to a sick child or partying all night, you may still have a valid workers’ compensation claim.
If you have suffered an injury while working, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Have questions about a claim? An attorney can answer those questions and provide guidance regarding the benefits you may be entitled to.