The Symptoms: Exhaustion, fatigue and lack of physical energy are common sleep deprivation symptoms. Exhaustion and fatigue affect our emotional moods, causing pessimism, sadness, stress and anger. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) has suggested that social problems such as road rage may be caused, in part, by a national epidemic of sleepiness. Other medical research at Harvard points to sleep deprivation contributing to an increased heart disease risk, higher risks of diabetes, and obesity. In situational awareness tests, operating on a sleep debt of only 2 hours is equivalent of a blood alcohol content of .06 -.08.
The Message: Safety issues arise when people are sleep deprived. Situational awareness decreases, frustration during repetitive tasks increases, and a workforce in general becomes much less productive. Sometimes the behavior of just a few sleep deprived employees disrupts an entire team. And it is difficult to rely on our own sense of whether or not we are getting enough sleep.
We may very well be chronically sleep-deprived and consider that normal. The quick sleep quizz is a good discussion starter. If you answer Yes to more than three, a consult with your doctor is advised.