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

lady sleeping

 II. Risks from Not Getting Enough Sleep

  • Sleep is a biological need for life and health, similar to the need for food. Sleep affects your mental and physical performance as well as long-term health.
  • Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of good-quality sleep every 24 hours to perform during emergency operations.
  • When you lose sleep, you build up sleep debt that will seriously impair your performance. The only way to pay off this debt is to get enough sleep. Willpower alone will not keep you safe from the mounting effects of sleep debt.
  • As someone who is deployed, you should view sleep as a critical logistical item, just like water, food, and the supplies needed to carry out operations.
  • The longer you go without sleep, the more you are prone to slow thinking, confusion, and making mistakes. This could put you and others around you at risk for injuries and death.
    Car crashed
  • Fatigue has been identified as a causal factor of vehicle crashes and several well-known industrial disasters.

To protect your mental and physical health and your safety while deployed, do your best to get enough sleep. Managers and supervisors should create work and rest schedules during the response that allow everyone, including themselves, to get enough sleep.

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Page last reviewed: April 1, 2020