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

Pressure for Sleep

Pressure for sleep builds as awake time increases (see Figure 1).

The pressure goes down during sleep, reaching a low after a full night of good-quality sleep.

Sometimes the body produces a higher drive for sleep, resulting in a longer, deeper sleep. This can happen, for example,

  • When the immune system is fighting an infection
  • During a physically and mentally demanding experience such as deployment

The dotted line in Figure 1 shows sleep pressure continues to build if sleep does not occur. This may result in more drowsiness and fatigue the longer you are awake.

Graph showing Pressure to Sleep over time
Figure 1

Buildup of pressure to sleep.

Page 18 of 48

Page last reviewed: April 1, 2020