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How Does Workplace Fatigue Affect You

07 April 2023

Fatigue isn't just about how tired you are. Sure, people do use fatigue and tiredness largely interchangeably, but that doesn't mean that there aren't other effects to it as well. Fatigue increases the risk of accidents and injuries and your work in general.

Workplace fatigue is considered the kind of tiredness which results in reduced ability to perform your job. Whether that's because of mental exhaustion or physical, it develops and worsens over time until your health and productivity start being affected, if you don't address it properly.

But how does workplace fatigue affect you? And how can you tell if someone is fatigued?



How Does Workplace Fatigue Affect You

There are many different ways workplace fatigue can affect you, negatively. In fact, you may find that at some point you are so fatigued that you are unable to complete the work you have at hand, and may even be risking your safety in some way!

Cognitive Effects

When you are tired, cognitive performance drops. This means that you may have issues like short-term memory issues, trouble concentrating on any kind of task, and being relatively slower than usual at whatever you're doing.

In fact, if you're fatigued because of long hours or night shifts (which are very common), you may also not be getting enough sleep, which can result in more health problems.

Work Performance

Fatigue can affect your workplace performance. When you're tired and sleepy, you may face a loss in productivity which can further affect your work and make you even more stressed out. This is because if you're not getting enough work done, you may feel obliged to push yourself through it just to meet your deadlines, but in an already-fatigued state, this only serves to tire you out even more. As the cycle continues, there may come a point when you are so fatigued that you may end up burnt out.

Poor Safety

Safety is also greatly linked to fatigue. For one thing, because fatigued workers are usually sleep deprived, the chances of accidents become a lot higher. In fact, about 13% of work-related injuries are a result of sleep problems. This is particularly true if you have medical problems like insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea which can make you even more likely to have sleep problems - and thus, once again, increase the risk of accidents.

Night-shift accidents are also a lot more common, particularly because of sleep deprivation issues.

Health Problems

The safety issues aren't the only risk that fatigue has towards your health. There are other ways fatigue can worsen your health - for example, tiredness results in less physical activity, which can cause problems like obesity and cardiovascular disease.

In fact, tiredness also results in a number of problems with posture. You're a lot more likely to slump over your desk or have a droopy head when you're fatigued, and this can cause further problems. As your posture remains incorrect, you'll find new problems springing up, like pains and aches in newer places and nerve compression.

In fact, poor posture can also result in fatigue - which in turn makes your posture worse, and the cycle continues.

Economic Problems

When your physical and mental health are affected, so is your work. When your work is affected, so is your overall performance at the workplace and this may result in problems for the company. From losses due to poor performance to the costs of healthcare to deal with injuries, the price to pay for fatigue can be very high!

In fact, per year, insomnia results in billions of dollars lost per year, which also results in higher healthcare costs.

The effects of fatigue can be severe - not just for the individual, but also for the company they work at. Understanding fatigue and preventing it is very important for anyone's safety.

A major aspect of preventing fatigue is recognizing the problem at the right time. If you are fatigued and you leave yourself untreated, you'll find that the problem steadily becomes worse until you come to a point where the treatment costs you a lot more than if you had just made some changes to prevent it in the first place.



Recognizing Fatigue

Since fatigue builds up slowly and is fairly unnoticeable at first, you can't completely eliminate the risk - especially because fatigue can develop due to so many reasons. However, what you can do is recognize it in time and find yourselves a treatment or remedy before it's too late.

Weariness or Sleepiness

Since fatigue is mostly about the exhaustion you feel, the obvious sign of fatigue would be all the signs of exhaustion. That is, drooping heads, sleepiness, and yawning. These are all signs that someone is fatigued and that they need some time to recuperate and recover if they want to avoid any accidents.

Since sleep disorders are the number one cause of accidents related to workplace fatigue, these signs are especially important to look out for.

Irritability

People can be irritable for many reasons, but lack of rest can be one of them. If irritability comes with any of the other signs of fatigue, you'd want to look into it.

Reduced Mental Capacity

Tiredness can result in a lack of cognitive ability as well. This doesn't mean that you'll have trouble speaking, for example, or that you can't work. There will, however, be a decrease in how well you're able to perform all your daily tasks. You may have trouble remembering simple things or solving problems as quickly as you would before.

In fact, fatigue can also make you make more mistakes than you would otherwise. Even the best of workers may end up making errors and poor choices that seem to carry on, and this could be a result of fatigue.

Lack of Motivation

Lack of motivation is another major concern when it comes to fatigue. This may appear like laziness to outsiders who may see you as unable to - or unwilling to - do your work, but it is usually considered to be a sign of a broader problem. In this case, that would be fatigue.

Headaches

Headaches are a frequent problem that fatigued folks may face, but can also be a result of dehydration. Make sure to drink enough water and stay hydrated, but also keep an eye out for the rest of the signs on this list.

Addressing & Preventing Fatigue

Once you've realized that a problem exists, you want to prevent it! While fatigue prevention isn't entirely in your hands - both, employers and employees are responsible - you can still do quite a lot on your own.



Posture

The best way to prevent all sorts of problems at the workplace is to make sure your posture is correct. Poor posture is the cause of many major problems - including fatigue. To keep posture from contributing, you should invest in some good, ergonomic furniture that will make sure your body is in the right position and minimizes any health risks that could arise from that.

Flexispot's ergonomic chairs are an excellent option to provide you with adequate support and keep your body protected.



Taking Breaks

There is no way to emphasize the importance of taking breaks, particularly when it comes to preventing fatigue.

It's important for your body that you take micro-breaks every few minutes to stretch your legs and get some of that blood flowing. A ten-minute break every hour is recommended, and you should be using these breaks to walk around a bit and put those strained muscles into use so they can relax.



Physical Exercise

It may seem impossible to get your body moving when you're already tired, but physical activity is necessary if you want to prevent fatigue from getting worse.

Exercise doesn't just boost energy levels, it also improves your mental health through the release of dopamine and endorphins. On top of that, the workout will release some of the stress that gets built up and puts your strained muscles into use, which will also help you feel less tired.



Fix Your Sleep Schedule

Again, sleep is one of the biggest reasons people are suffering from fatigue, to begin with. The solution to the problem, then, is to get good sleep at night.

Good nighttime sleep is what your body needs to go through its restorative processes, so if you don't get good sleep at night, you're bound to be more tired and exhausted than you would otherwise.

Sleeping early can help, but if you don't get enough of it - due to workload, or shift timings - you can also take naps throughout the day. This doesn't just help wake you up but also promotes your daily performance and gives your brain the boost it needs to wake you up.

You may even find that simply fixing your sleep schedule is enough to get rid of multiple other problems in your life.