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Environmental Health and Safety Blog | EHSWire

NIOSH performs studies on Sleep Deprivation

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Mar 27, 2012 6:07:47 AM

March 5-11, 2012 marked National Sleep Awareness Week, and all over the Internet, employers, bloggers, researchers, and other scientists have marked the occasion by bringing up studies performed by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (or NIOSH) regarding sleep deprivation, sleep and work schedules, and sleep loss.

At the heart of this research lies an examination of several different types of workers, including nurses, police officers, truck drivers, manufacturing laborers, and white collar workers. Of particular importance to these sleep loss and sleep deprivation studies are those who perform shift work and have night-time work schedules.

Of high interest is the effect of occupational stress and health of police officers studied in Buffalo, New York. Statistically important health issues include tiredness due to lack of quality sleep, especially among those officers who work night shifts, and who report less than six hours of sleep a night. In addition, risk of injury is greater to the night shift workers, because of these “unnatural” sleep and work schedules

There are several research studies that are either ongoing or have been completed regarding sleep deprivation in truck drivers, manufacturing workers, and even white collar workers. Large amounts of data collected (from long-haul truck drivers especially) show a wide array of sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, fatigue and the overall lowered safety expectations from drivers who do not get enough quality sleep.

Another group being studied is American nurses, especially pregnant female nurses. In collaboration with the Harvard Nurses' Health Study, results are showing that an increased number of adverse reproductive outcomes and menstrual cycle abnormalities can be attributed to shift work; especially those studied who work a night shift.

In relation to the sleep deprivation and sleep loss health issues such as fatigue, depression, headaches, malaise, and reproductive issues, the studies point out that work hours that are too long for good health can actually attribute to the decline of healthy white blood cells, which are the first line of defense against such devastating diseases as cancer and autoimmune disorders.

In an effort to stem the adverse health effects and potential safety issues inherent in shift workers and those who work too many hours, NIOSH scientists are seeking development and training programs for managers and workers in several different fields of employ, including those mentioned above. They hope to raise awareness of the problems, encourage healthy sleep habits, and foster a healthier management style that would see more reasonable hours for workers. The dissemination of this information is being brought about through workplace posters, websites, webinars, online training courses, and public service announcements.
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Topics: Emilcott, NIOSH, health and safety, General Industry H&S, General EHS, Sleep and Work Schedules, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Hea, Sleep loss, worker safety, Sleep Deprivation

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