WebMD reports on a new study published in the BMJ in which researchers took a close look at the effect of poor sleep on the chance of work-related injuries. They pooled the results of 27 studies, which included more than 268,000 working adults. Through interviews, questionnaires, and doctors’ diagnoses, the studies identified which people had sleep problems. The researchers then looked at whether workplace injuries were more likely among people with sleep difficulties than among those without these problems.
The researchers found a strong link between sleep problems and work injuries. People with sleep difficulties were around 60 percent more likely to have an injury at work than those without these problems. Overall, the researchers estimated that 13 in every 100 work injuries were related to poor sleep.
When the researchers looked at different types of sleep problems, they found that people who had sleep apnoea or took sleep medicines had the highest chance of work injuries. Perhaps surprisingly, the risk of injury related to poor sleep was lower for workers in industrial jobs and other physically demanding work (such as farming, mining, and building) than for workers overall.
This was a well-conducted review of studies, and it should provide a reliable summary of what the current research tells us about sleep problems and work injuries. However, it’s worth noting that the review didn’t include studies looking at poor sleep and driving-related work injuries. If these studies were included, the overall risk of work injuries related to poor sleep could be even higher.