What can I do as an employee?
You don’t have to wait for a workplace program to get checked out for sleep disorders. If you suspect that you might have a sleep disorder, visit your doctor.
Not only is this important for your own health and safety, but also for the health and safety of those around you. For instance, workplace accidents or drowsy driving crashes on the commute to and from work may not only affect you but also your colleagues and the public at large. This ‘second-hand sleepiness’ can be deadly and it is your responsibility to ensure that you come to work fit-for-duty and do not present a hazard to those around you. You will also feel better, have more energy and get more done if your sleep disorders are treated.
More than 80 clinical sleep disorders have been identified and so acquiring an expert’s help in diagnoses is highly recommended. The most common disorders identified in occupational populations are sleep apnoea, insomnia, shiftwork disorder and restless legs syndrome. Further details on these common symptoms are outlined in factsheets provided by the Sleep Health Foundation:
Screening for Sleep Disorders
A number of examples of successful sleep disorders screening, referral and treatment interventions have been published in peer-reviewed medical journals. A selection is provided below. Please contact the CRC for Alertness, Safety and Productivity if you need additional resources.
Sullivan JP, O'Brien CS, Barger LK, Rajaratnam SM, Czeisler CA, Lockley SW; Harvard Work Hours, Health and Safety Group. Randomized, prospective study of the impact of a Sleep Health Program on firefighter injury and disability. Sleep. 2017 Jan 1;40(1).
Berger M, Varvarigou V, Rielly A, Czeisler CA, Malhotra A, Kales SN. Employer-mandated sleep apnea screening and diagnosis in commercial drivers. J Occup Environ Med. 2012;54:1017–25.
Burks SV, Anderson JE, Bombyk M, Haider R, Ganzhorn D, Jiao X, Lewis C, Lexvold A, Liu H, Ning J, Toll A, Hickman JS, Mabry E, Berger M, Malhotra A, Czeisler CA, Kales SN.
Nonadherence with employer-mandated sleep apnea treatment and increased risk of serious truck crashes. Sleep. 2016; 39(5):967-75.
Meuleners L, Fraser ML, Govorko MH, Stevenson MR. Obstructive sleep apnea, health-related factors, and long distance heavy vehicle crashes in Western Australia: a case control study. J Clin Sleep Med. 2015; 11(4):413-8.