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

Vital Body Processes Occur During Sleep

During sleep, your body is busy

  • Repairing tissues
  • Fighting off infections
  • Forming memories of experiences that occurred during the day

If you do not get adequate sleep, you could experience health effects such as

  • Disruption of insulin/blood glucose system, promoting insulin resistance
  • Increased appetite, resulting in overeating and weight gain
  • Impaired mental functioning (see ‘Identify Responder Fatigue’ in Section VII for the types of impairment that could occur)

Sleep loss can also weaken the immune system by

  • Reducing the proper function of cells that attack cancer cells and viruses
  • Increasing the inflammatory response, which increases the risk for cardiovascular and metabolic disorders such as diabetes
  • Reducing production of antibodies, thereby increasing the risk for infection

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Page last reviewed: April 1, 2020