The new issue of CDC’s MMWR (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report) discusses a topic that affects many people…lack of sleep! This is a particular concern in emergencies when people work long hours under stressful conditions. This lack of sleep affects decision-making (decision fatigue) and has a major impact on overall worker safety.

Insufficient sleep can have serious and sometimes fatal consequences for fatigued workers and others around them. For example, an estimated 20% of vehicle crashes are linked to drowsy driving. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that healthy adults sleep 7–9 hours per day. To assess the prevalence of short sleep duration among workers, CDC analyzed data from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). The analysis compared sleep duration by age group, race/ethnicity, sex, marital status, education, and employment characteristics.

Overall, 30.0% of civilian employed U.S. adults (approximately 40.6 million workers) reported an average sleep duration of less than 6 hours per day. The prevalence of short sleep duration (≤6 hours per day) varied by industry of employment with a significantly higher rate of short sleep duration among workers in manufacturing (34.1%) compared with all workers combined. It was no surprise that among all workers, those who usually worked the night shift had a much higher prevalence of short sleep times (44.0%) than those who worked the day shift.

Because short sleep duration is associated with various adverse health effects (e.g., cardiovascular disease or obesity), decreased workplace and public safety, and impaired job performance and poor decision-making, targeted interventions are needed to increase the proportion of adults who get sufficient sleep.

When your Emergency Operations Center (EOC) activates, one of the first priorities should be establishing a staffing schedule.  Send people home to rest so they can come back and relieve those who are currently working.  If you fail to do this you will have a burned out team and no relief in sight! There is a lot of research about how long people can effectively work before mistakes kick in….12 hours is generally the max!

And on a personal level, what are you doing to get more sleep!??!

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6116a2.htm?s_cid=mm6116a2_e