Night-shift Workers Are Not Getting Enough Sleep

According to a new government report, nearly one third of the employed adults in the United States are not getting enough sleep. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 30 percent of all workers get less than 6 hours of sleep a night while healthy adults should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep.


Those who work the night shift – in the social assistance industries, health care, warehousing, and transportation – complain about not getting enough sleep more often than day-shift workers. Only 29 percent of all day-shift workers say they get less than 6 hours of sleep compared to 44 percent of the night-shift workers.


Insufficient sleep is not only linked with cardiovascular disease and obesity but can have fatal consequences. Drowsy driving is associated with around 20 percent of all vehicle crashes. Sleep deprivation was a factor in the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, and other disasters in recent history. Chronic sleep loss and sleep disorders put people at risk for stroke, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and heart failure. Adults who do not get enough sleep are at risk for heart attack, heart disease, and diabetes. Moreover, shortened sleep time may increase the risk of death. Workers who have cut their sleep hours from 7 to 5 or 4 a night are at a higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease and other causes.


The new reports of sleep-deprived workers vary by industry and occupation, but the manufacturing sector fares among the worst. People who are separated, divorced, or widowed are more likely to report not getting enough sleep than those who have never been married and those who are married. Asian and African-American workers also report short sleeps compared to white workers.

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