Effect of Sleep on Safety

A good night’s sleep prepares the body for physical and mental alertness. Deprived of rest, important cognitive processes become slowed, dull, and less responsive. This creates a perfect storm for workplace disaster. Indeed, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies reports that people struggling with sleep have a much higher risk for accidents.

Many companies are one good night’s sleep away from a serious, costly, and preventable workplace accident. Even if your employees aren’t flying planes or operating heavy machinery, they could make poor decisions resulting in accidents involving themselves or others. Even one slip-and-fall involving a sleepy worker could result in extremely costly (and avoidable) litigation for your company.


$31 Billion
estimated cost of sleep-
related workplace
accidents and mistakes


20% of all serious car crash
injuries are associated
with driver sleepiness

Sleep and Safety

Harvard Medical School reports that sleep deprivation critically impairs job performance, with potentially disastrous results. Sleep sharpens our cognitive ability, enabling us to think fast, act fast, and act smart. When your employees suffer insomnia, they are less capable in the workplace environment. This can lead to dangerous and costly workplace accidents.

In 2010, a sleep-deprived pilot caused a Boeing 737 crash in southern India, killing 158 people. In recent decades, numerous high-profile accidents reported in national media were determined to be related to sleep deprivation, costing precious human lives. No employer can afford that statistic.

Sleep Deprivation Impacts Safety

Without sleep, the human body becomes less predictable. Highly fatigued workers are 70 percent more likely to be involved in workplace accidents compared to workers with lower fatigue levels. One beer has the same impact on a person with 4 hours of sleep as six beers on a well-rested person.

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies estimates the cost of automobile accidents attributed to sleepiness to fall between $29.2 billion and $37.9 billion. Driver sleepiness is associated with 20 percent of all serious car crashes.


One beer has the same impact
on a person with four
hours of sleep as six beers
on a well-rested person


Highly fatigued workers
are 70% more likely to be
involved in accidents

What is Sleep Deprivation Costing Your Company?

Who pays the price for sleepless nights? Unfortunately, employers often become legally and financially responsible for workplace accidents. Sleep deprivation puts everything important into slow motion – but accelerates costs for companies. Sleep-related workplace accidents and mistakes cost U.S. companies an estimated $31 billion due to accidents and mistakes.

The media often portrays OSA and related insomnia as causing horrific workplace accidents in the fields of transportation and heavy industry. That’s indisputably true, but it’s also true that OSA directly affects safety in your own company. Estimates place OSA-related safety costs at between $5 billion to $20 billion annually. Without a doubt, you’re paying the price.