Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sleeping on the Job Proves Costly

ABC News reports that a nuclear power plant was fined $65,000 because security workers were caught sleeping on the job.

Video images of sleeping guards were recorded by a fellow guard at different times of day. A federal investigator also discovered a guard sleeping at his post.

The incidents occurred at the
Peach Bottom Nuclear Plant just outside of Philadelphia. The guards are responsible for protecting the plant from a terrorist attack.

Falling asleep on the job is a clear sign of severe sleep deprivation. This is common when security guards work more than one job.

Excessive daytime sleepiness can be a sign of another sleep disorder. These include
obstructive sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome and narcolepsy.

Sleepiness on the job also is a common sign of
shift work disorder. The problem can be severe for people who work rotating shifts or night shifts. This forces them to be alert at a time when the body is normally asleep.

Then they have to try to sleep during the day. Daytime distractions can make this difficult. In a
recent study of 163 nurses, more than 70 percent of the nurses report that they are unable to get enough sleep.

A recent study in the journal Sleep reports that night-shift workers can benefit from a realistic but strict sleep schedule. It helps them remain alert during the night shift and allows them to stay awake during the day on days off.

Subjects slept in dark bedrooms at scheduled times: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. after the first two night shifts. From 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. after the third night shift. From 3 a.m. to 12 p.m. on the two weekend days off. And again from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. after the final four night shifts.

They also were exposed to five, 15-minute sessions of
bright light therapy each night shift. Within two hours after waking up, they went outside for at least 15 minutes of natural light exposure. But they wore dark sunglasses whenever they were outside.

The schedule enabled them to perform well at work and sleep well at home. Contact an AASM-accredited sleep center if you are sleeping on the job or struggling with a shift-work schedule.

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