Interim NIOSH Training for Emergency Responders: Reducing Risks Associated with Long Work Hours

Dangers of sleepiness and fatigue
light switch

When the brain is deprived of adequate sleep, at some point it will go to sleep no matter what the situation.

  • The brain moves rapidly from wakefulness to sleep, like an on/off switch
  • This leads to dangerous situations while performing critical tasks (such as driving)
  • There are warning signs when the brain is close to falling asleep:
    • Difficulty focusing
    • Frequent blinking, heavy eyelids, eye-rubbing
    • Daydreaming or disconnected thoughts
    • Repeated yawning, difficulty keeping head up
    • Feeling restless and irritable

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Page last reviewed: April 1, 2020