The cost of inadequate sleep…

In 2017, the total cost of inadequate sleep in Australia was $66.3 billion. That’s approximately $8,968 per person affected in both financial and wellbeing costs. A common factor in many car crashes, workplace accidents, mental health and aggressive behaviour is fatigue caused by inadequate sleep.

Car Accidents

It is estimated that inadequate sleep contributes to 23% of total motor vehicle accidents. Furthermore, just over one Australian each day will die from falling asleep at the wheel of a vehicle due to a lack of sleep.

People can experience increased distractibility and difficulties staying in lane when driving drowsy. Drivers who sleep less than 4 hours are 11 times more likely to crash than drivers who slept 7 hours.

Shift Work

Shift work is challenging because it requires us to act against the signals of our bodies. Working at night means that we must try to stay awake and be safe and productive when our bodies are trying to make us sleep. Light can be very powerful in overcoming these signals from the body. When we are exposed to light at night, it is a signal to our brains and body that it is day, not night, and therefore time to be awake and aware of our surroundings. An added challenge in shift work is that these workers often get poor sleep when off shift. This adds to the challenge of being safe and alert on shift. Light that is enriched in blue wavelengths is optimal for overcoming fatigue on shift while also being comfortable to work under.

Health and Shift Work

  • Almost double the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in rotating shift workers, as well as increased insulin resistance.
  • Increased risk of cancer in long-term night workers and shift workers.
  • Shift work is also associated with poorer mental health.

Impact of Shift Work on Healthcare Workers

There are many ways that shift work affects healthcare staff both physically and mentally. This can include reduced job performance, obesity, personal injuries, and a wide range of chronic diseases. Driving while fatigued can also endanger themselves and others during their commute to and from work.

The toll that shift work has on healthcare workers results in an increase of sick leave, bullying/aggressive behaviour, and reduced staff retention. In addition, fatigue-related errors could harm patients.

  • Weekend and Out of Hours Mortality within 48 hours of ED Admission