Finding it hard to stay awake at work today? Want to drop off at your desk for a quick ten minute snooze? Well you’re not alone. As many as one in 20 people in Britain struggle to stay awake during the day and their desire to nod off is costing the nation approximately £68billion a year.
At this week’s Annual Scientific Meeting, which has been organised by the Society of Occupational Medicine, sleep specialists Alison Proctor and Catherine Billings told delegates that reports of tiredness at work was on the increase.
“Britain has been very slow in spotting the signs of sleep deprivation” said Alison Proctor. “But we need to recognise that this is a serious problem that has a significant impact on the lives of millions of people.”
Ms Proctor highlighted obesity as a major factor to this growing trend. She added, “Sleep deprivation is caused by a lack of air entering the lungs, resulting in disturbed activity during the night. When a person is obese, it is harder for air to enter the lungs sufficiently, although people who are not obese can suffer from severe tiredness too.”
The two specialists who work for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Trust said sleep deprivation is alarmingly most likely to affect bus, lorry and train drivers, because of the sedentary role they have. “20 per cent of all road traffic accidents are caused by sleepy drivers,” said Catherine Billings. “We need to make sure that all drivers are properly assessed and are getting the eight hours sleep that’s required for the body to function well.”
Ms Billings added that people who worked shift patterns or highly pressurised jobs were also referred to them for help.
On average, a person needs 6.5 to 8.5 hours of sleep a night in order to function properly. A good night’s sleep is essential to maintaining a good mood, performance and memory.
To find out how well you sleep, keep a sleep diary for two weeks and record the time you go to bed, how long it takes for you to fall asleep and whether you are woken up by anything during the night. Anyone who believes they are sleep deprived should visit their GP for advice.
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