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Professions Prone to Sleep Deprivation & How it Affects Your Job

Professions Prone to Sleep Deprivation & How it Affects Your Job

Have you ever heard the phrase that your work is killing you? There is growing research which says that might actually be the case. Between stress, commuting, decreased time for exercise and healthy eating habits, unhealthy work environments, repetitive actions or unnatural body positions, work takes a toll on everyone.

Certain professions are more dangerous to your health in the long term than others. When it comes to sleep deprivation, for example, work that requires shifts or particularly high levels of concentration is more likely to disrupt normal sleep patterns.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine advises that adults between the ages of 18 and 60 get at least seven hours of sleep daily. But what if your job is causing you to lose sleep? Here is look at the professions that have a higher risk for sleep deprivation and the effects this has on the job.


Jobs in the transportation industry have been identified as being at high risk for sleep problems. Air traffic controllers, pilots, rail transportation workers, and long-haul truck drivers are included in this group. Professionals in this field have a lot of responsibilities in relation to their own safety and the safety of others. They are also required to work long hours and often through the night, which is disruptive to circadian rhythms – the cycles that set wake/sleep patterns.

Airline pilots must also adapt often to different time zones which can be disorienting. In fact, the Federal Aviation Administration has strict regulations regarding the length of pilots’ shifts and the amount of rest time required between flights.

Commercial truck driving is the most deadly occupation. Sleep deprivation is a clear contributing factor in the number of fatalities and injuries caused by accidents. In the past six years, truck driver fatalities have gone up more than 17% despite efforts by advocacy groups, like the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, to decrease driver fatigue. Being tired while driving renders it difficult to stay alert, make safe decisions and react quickly, even for good drivers with years of experience.

Health Care

It is no surprise that health care workers are among the most sleep deprived. Although doctors, nurses and health aides have important jobs that require high amounts of concentration, they also tend to be high-stress professions with schedules that do not prioritize sleep. Being on call, working shifts and providing 24-hour care is highly disruptive to regular sleep patterns. As much as 75% of healthcare workers on alternating shifts have experienced fatigue while on duty and lack of sleep has been closely associated with an increased risk of medical errors.

Medical residents are also notoriously sleep deprived. While training to become fully certified doctors, interns are often expected to work up to 80 hours per week in the hospital and survive grueling shifts that can last up to 28 hours. The physical and psychological demand placed on medical students is largely unique when compared to other professions and the consequences can be dangerous.


Historically, in the manufacturing industry, factory workers have been expected to work shifts, even through the night. Not only do they deal with the difficulty of staying awake while most other people sleep, but they often work with heavy equipment and in relatively dangerous environments. Falling asleep on the job, difficulty staying alert and impaired motor skills are all extremely hazardous side effects to handle in these types factory of environments.


Top managers and business owners – in a wide range of businesses – are under constant stress at work. They also are often expected to be the first person in the office and the last to leave. As many as 43% of business leaders report not getting enough sleep during the week. Over time, this can make it more difficult to handle stress, think clearly, solve problems, operate efficiently and lead the company with confidence.

Other Professions that Are Prone to Sleep Deprivation

  • Internet and communication service operators
  • Network administrators
  • Plant managers
  • Bartenders
  • Food service supervisors
  • Police officers and other first responders
  • Computer programmers
  • Financial analysts

Sleep Deprivation Reduces Job Performance

Some of the greatest industrial disasters have been associated with sleep deprivation, such as the Chernobyl and Three Mile Island nuclear accidents, according to the American Safety Council. But everyday mistakes and lowered productivity can also be attributed to a chronic lack of sleep. On-the-job performance can be negatively impacted in the following ways:

  • Not taking proper safety precautions,
  • Decreased motor skills,
  • Impaired decision making,
  • Faulty memory,
  • Falling asleep on the job,
  • Reduced productivity,
  • Difficulty handling stress,
  • Increased physical problems.

Read more about the negative effects of long-term sleep deprivation.

Contact Sleep Health Solutions

If you are having trouble getting the recommended seven hours of sleep per night or are experiencing chronic fatigue at work, contact Sleep Health Solutions. We can help identify the underlying causes of your lack of sleep. Our professional team can perform sleep evaluations, both in-home and at our specialized sleep center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Call us today at (330) 923-0228.

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