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The #1 Question We Get Asked About Sleep & Decision Making
What is Cognitive Fatigue and How Does This Affect Decisions at Work?
In recent history, sleep deprivation has been responsible for innumerable catastrophic accidents. The horrific Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster and the grounding of the Exxon Valdez oil tanker have both been attributed to human error as a result of sleep deprivation, just to name a few. Sadly, many more major accidents are said to have been caused by fatigue, and the scary reality is that they continue to happen everywhere daily, and could have been avoided with a good night’s sleep.
“A study by Washington State University (WSU) showed that no matter how hard a sleep-deprived person tried to make the right decision, sleeplessness created short-circuits in the brain that prevented them from making the right choice. This study provides new insights into how sleep deprivation can lead to fatal errors of judgement in real-life situations.” (Psychology Today)
What causes fatigue?
Cognitive fatigue leads to reduced alertness, reaction time, and impaired decision making on the job … the kind that can seriously compromise workplace safety. It occurs for two primary reasons, and when both are combined, the negative effects are compounded:
1. Sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation can be defined as not getting the sufficient number of hours of sleep (generally 7-8), and/or not getting sufficient quality rest (eg. untreated sleep apnea) within a 24-hour period.
2. Sleep desynchronization. Sleep desynchronization is what occurs when we force the body to remain awake or asleep at times out of sync with its circadian and homeostatic rhythm (ie. shift work or jet lag).
Unlike how we can train our muscles to run a marathon, sleep deprivation and sleep desynchronization are not states we can train our bodies for. Cognitive fatigue negatively affects everyone, causing our alertness, health, and performance to suffer. However, there are methods and programs available that can improve sleep within your workplace!
Get Sleep Help for Your Workplace
Sleep not only benefits the health and wellness of your employees, but as we’ve just learned, poor sleep can also affect the decisions made at work, and in-turn your bottom line. This is why we created an in-house Employee Wellness program — Sleep Concierge!
Sleep Concierge offers customized sleep wellness programs for transportation workers, shift workers, those working in the field of executive health.
Schedule a complimentary meeting with our Sleep Concierge team today!