Sleep deprivation refers to the condition where individuals do not have adequate sleep and it may be either acute or chronic. Acute sleep deprivation comes on rapidly but has the advantage of ending quickly. On the other hand, chronic sleep deprivation lasts for a longer time and could occur periodically. Mood swings among these workers would be a key symptom of sleep deprivation among these employees. Their levels of performance would plummet as they lose effective concentration on their work and feel more fatigued every moment. These individuals are also likely to face problems in their families as continued sleep deprivation may break up their families. It is vital for companies to ensure that their employees are given adequate time to take a rest away from their routine jobs as this will help in the promotion of efficiency.
This paper explicates sleep deprivation among shift employees in line with numerous associated factors such as causes, effects on job performance, effects on relationships, human factors, and the improvement of the sleep deprivation problem.
Causes of Sleep Deprivation
One of the significant causes of sleep deprivation among shift workers is the behavioral cause where some of these workers choose not to sleep. It is significant to note that shift workers make a personal choice not to sleep in most instances because of the feeling that they have other commitment and targets that they must achieve in their lives. According to Bills (2008) night shift workers could continue with their sleeplessness throughout the day engaging in other activities hence leading to sleep deprivation as they cannot spent a single hour to rest. The personal decision not to sleep also emanates from the feeling that more opportunities to progress in society could be lost at the time when is asleep. The fear of losing significant opportunities leads to the making of decision geared toward denying one sleep and ensuring that he/she stays awake to take advantage of any of them. Thus, sleep deprivation could be behavioral emanating from the decision of the worker not to sleep in order to engage in other activities.
Another cause of sleep deprivation is the availability of too little time to sleep. It is worth noting that shift workers may find too little time to sleep especially in cases where they are given take-away jobs. Some companies especially those dealing with the exportation and importation of commodities between different countries always involve immense duties and most of these workers have to carry home some more work. This means that they have too little time to sleep leading to sleep deprivation. Colten & Altevogt (2006) asserts that this is because they have to remain awake for most of their day in order to complete their assigned work before getting some little rest. Some of these shift employees would totally miss their sleep because of the immense workload that they have to finish before attending their upcoming shifts. Thus, work pressure and the need to attend to other personal matters denies shift workers the opportunity to sleep leading to sleep deprivation.
Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation
Mood swings is one of the key symptoms of sleep deprivation. Most of these individuals would not be in a stable mood and would not be settled at all. This means that they would appear to be in low moods every time without an understanding of the courses of their continuous changes in their moods. Individuals tend to be more irritated in all situations and all this emanates from sleep deprivation. It is noted that sleep deprivation increases the level of behavioral odds and these individuals are likely to appear more depressed and their level of empathy decreases characterizing sleep deprivation.
Another symptom of sleep deprivation is the worsening nature of medical problems. The body is likely to become less resistant to different conditions affecting the health of these individuals. This means that their body defense systems would decline leading to the worsening of medical conditions in their body. For instance, diabetic shift workers who suffer from sleep deprivation are likely to experience more problems as their bodies become less sensitive to insulin because of the decline in the ability of the body to metabolize sugars. It is also noted that sleep deprivation could prompt lower body temperature, high blood pressure, and the fluctuation in the heart rate as it cannot find its rhythm.
Diminished motor skills is another effective symptom of sleep deprivation. It is asserted that the deprivation of sleep could lead to individuals operating like intoxicated people. This means that their speech would be slurred, these individuals could also keep stuttering, and there could be problems with their mental reasoning. They would not be in a better position to reason properly as sleep deprivation affects their mental orientations. Thus, most of these individuals are likely to suffer from continuing levels of mental retardation and behaviors. The case of Peter Tripp who was a New York Disk Jockey used to stay awake for 201 hours broadcasting. Peter Tripp performed his feat in a glass booth in Time Square, then in a hotel room with medical equipment monitored by the medical personal. It was observed that the longer Tripp stayed without sleep, the more the medical assistance he required because his brain was being affected gradually. His motor skills declined and he could not recover fully from the condition making him lose his job.
Human Factor of Sleep Deprivation
The human factor approach is concerned with understanding relationships among humans and other elements operating in their systems and the theories, applications, and methods that can be used to improve the overall performance of the human system. It is vital to note that the human factor of sleep deprivation dwells more on fatigue among shift workers highlighting some significant principles of fatigue.
The human factor of sleep deprivation points out that many people are employed as shit workers all over the globe and they work in a variety of industries such as the transport industry and the utilities industry. According to Emsellem & M.D., (2006) fatigue emanates from excessive working among individuals or poor planned shifts that do not give individuals the opportunity to rest. The human factor of sleep deprivation also points out that sleep loss would gradually lead to the decline in the level of performance among individuals and it would make it more difficult for different organizations to progress appropriately.
Fatigue also leads to slower reactions, memory losses, decreased levels of awareness, and the decline in the ability of the brain to process information. Shift workers would have a problem handling their duties because of the continued levels of fatigue and sleep deprivation. The accuracy of duty performance also declines meaning the organization would not be able to achieve its goals effectively.
Significant principles to consider include the management of fatigue in effectiveness, the risks of fatigue should not be underestimated, and all employers have the legal duty to manage the risks associated with fatigue. Fatigue is a serious human factor that would affect the overall performance of employees at the workplace. Effective consideration from organizations would help shift workers deal with the high levels of fatigue.
Behavioral Issues and Effect on Work Performance
It is vital to note that sleep deprivation among shift workers leads to different behavioral issues and affects work performance among these employees. The most common behavioral issue associated with sleep deprivation among these workers is stress. These workers are likely to appear stressed at every instance and would develop attitudes to every action that they are supposed to take for the prosperity of the organization. The high levels of stress would lead to unexpected behaviors among these workers as stress dictates their steps and leads their actions toward different duties. Therefore, shift workers would exhibit high levels of stress and would likely engage in an unexpected action.
Most of them would appear restless and confused in their actions. They will not settle on the performance of any particular duty but will keep shifting their focus to other different aspects that are not likely wanted within the organization. Additionally, they would be confused and would not be able to respond to challenging tasks and the decision-making procedures within the organization.
As noted before, sleep deprivation is a serious disorder and has numerous effects on various issues. Among the places affected by sleep deprivation are the places of work. A person who is undergoing sleep deprivation is prone to certain effects since sleep deprivation negatively affects their work performance as discussed below.
Firstly, sleep deprivation affects a person’s concentration at work. When a person undergoes sleep deprivation, they are prone to poor concentration at work on the following day. Concentration is an ideal factor at work since it promotes high quality job performance by any worker. Newman (2008) asserts that when a person concentrates on their job, they are able to monitor the work progress and improve the places where they realize there is a problem. However, with poor concentration at work, a person lacks the capability to monitor the progress of the work and this affects the general performance of the person at work.
Secondly, sleep deprivation results to memory lapses to the employee. Memory lapse is where a person lacks the ability to remember what happened in the recent past. Peterson (2010) affirms that the issue of memory lapse is serious since a person might not be eligible to work again especially at work places where a lot of record need to be taken. Notably, when a person lacks sleep, they might start forgetting that they had various appointments at the work place or other official matters. The incapability to remember such important and official issues at a work place are serious since they lead to poor performance of the affected person. The best example is when a person is required to attend a meeting and they fail to do so simply because they forget. The meeting might have been a funding project from a certain body and this implies that the project would not take place since the person failed to attend the meeting.
Thirdly, difference in opinion with the fellow workers is likely to occur for a person that is undergoing sleep deprivation. This is yet another possible way that sleep deprivation affects the work performance of an individual. Notably, when a person lacks sleep, they would most likely start differing in opinion with the fellow workers at a given work place. This occurs through assumption by the affected person when they believe that they are right when they are on the wrong side. Despite the fact that a person is not doing the right thing, they insist they are right, thus creating tension within the work place. Difference in ideology is serious because workplaces normally need unity and understanding for the jobs to prosper whatsoever. This implies that the work performance of the affected individual and maybe the whole organization would go down.
The Health Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Firstly, sleep deprivation results to headaches and the general body fatigue. This is one of the most common health effects of the sleep deprivation. When a person lacks sleeps for less than for four hours within the 24 hours, they would most likely have headaches and general body fatigue on the following day. This results from the lack of enough time for the body muscles to relax after a day of work. Notably, a continuous sleep deprivation and headaches might result to serious ailments to the affected person. The medical experts advise that a person rest for at least 8 hours within the 24 hours period.
Secondly, additionally, sleep deprivation affects the fertility of both the male and female. Notably, health experts recommend that persons who are at the childbearing ages get enough sleep on daily basis. This is important since lack of enough sleep affects the quantity and motility of the male sperms. Initially, most people thought that this only affects the male but it is evident that sleep deprivation also affects the fertility in women. Relatively, it affects the secretion of the female hormone and the quality of the ovum. This implies that over a long period of staying up late, a person may not be able to reproduce. Furthermore, any damage on the ovum implies that the woman would be unable to conceive. This is among the most serious long-term health effects that results from sleep deprivation.
Thirdly, sleep deprivation effects to increase in blood pressure. This implies that people who get little sleep bare more chances of suffering from high blood pressure unlike the ones who get enough sleep. Notably, in the short run, lack of sleep results to stress and depression on an individual. Moreover, stress with high blood pressure is related and this is where a person’s health is affected. High blood pressure is a long-term effect that would affect the person and can even cause instant death when it gets worse. Regarding that, the medical experts advice that people increase the number of hours they sleep to at least 8 hours for prevention of such complications.
Moreover, sleep depression is prone to diabetes. This implies that people whom do not get enough sleep would most likely to suffer from diabetes. Diabetes is an ailment, related with sugar complication in the body. Normally, the sugar processes occur in the body when a person is asleep. As noted before, a person requires at least 8 hours of sleep for proper sugar process in the body. However, if they do not get that, the sugar concentration in the body would not be equal and this leads to diabetes.
Sleep Deprivation Effects on Family and Social Life
Sleep deprivation also has adverse effects on both the family and the social life of the person. The effects of these might be related with the effects discussed above.
Firstly, sleep deprivation leads to expensive expenditures on the family. As noted before, sleep deprivation has serious health effects on the person. Notably, the person may suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure and other diseases. Regarding that, the person must be attended to by seeking medical attention. The above-mentioned ailments are expensive and this means that they involve a lot of money. Furthermore, all this ailments are long-term.
Secondly, sleep deprivation leads to family break ups. The issue of sleep deprivation has contributed majorly too on breaking of families. Notably, this is evident mostly between the husband and the wife. The issue emerges when either the husband or the wife is affected by sleep deprivation. One of the affected couples would not be able to stay in bed for many hours and this results to misunderstandings. Regarding that, there might be break ups in the family. According to medical experts, this is avoidable if the affected couple takes immediate medical attention.
Thirdly, loneliness is an effect of sleep depression on the social life. Social life is the association with other people that an individual indulges. However, this interaction with other people is easily affected with sleep deprivation. Sethi (2011) maintains that sleep deprivation effects to loneliness in an individual’s life. Notably, when a person is deprived sleep, difference in opinion between them and the others is likely to occur. The ideological difference results from the mental problems that affect the brain. Relatively, other people would not want to relate with the individual since they know he/she will not agree with their opinion, thus avoid them. This leads to loneliness in the affected person.
The Ways of Improving Sleep Deprivation
One of the most vital and simple ways of improving deprivation is by ensuring that there is no source of light in the room. Normally, any small amount of light interferes with sleep. According to experts, a person needs to be in dark room in order to sleep well.
Another way of improving sleep is by stopping to take caffeine after 2pm any other day. Caffeine is responsible for insomnia since it makes the body organs active and one cannot catch sleep easily. Regarding that, it is advisable not to take caffeine after two pm.
Additionally, the pillow position too plays critical role in sleep. This requires that a person check their pillow position when they are going to bed. A proper pillow position creates comfort ability and ensure proper and enough sleep.
In conclusion, one of the significant causes of sleep deprivation among shift workers is the behavioral cause where some of these workers choose not to sleep. Sleep deprivation normally has several effects. Notably, mood swings is one of the key symptoms of sleep deprivation. Most of these individuals would not be in a stable mood and would not be settled at all. This means that they would appear to be in low moods every time without an understanding of the courses of their continuous changes in their moods. Furthermore, sleep deviation has adverse effects both on the work performance of the individual and on the family members. Sleep deprivation results to memory lapses to the employee. Memory lapse is where a person lacks the ability to remember what happened in the recent past. The issue of memory lapse is serious since a person might not be eligible to work again especially at work places where a lot of record need to be taken.