Posts Tagged ‘tiredness’

Leader driven Harmony #31: Sleeping on the Job…

by Mack McKinney on July 1, 2011

… Yes, You may be doing it, and not even know it!

When airline pilots overfly the airport by 100 miles, it is a big deal.  And when air traffic controllers nod off in the tower it makes international news.  What about when YOU are a little groggy from 8-11 every day?  After all, our society lives on coffee and isn’t everyone somewhat fog-brained every day.  No.  They are not.  And you cannot afford to be either.  Your organization hired you to THINK and you cannot do that when chronically tired.

The brain not only performs poorly at key tasks when deeply fatigued, it also makes-up things, twisting things you experience and inventing entirely new things.  And parts of your brain cannot differentiate between things imagined and things experienced!  So that means you can “see” things happen that didn’t actually happen at all, but you will swear they did.  Driving through Texas in the wee hours of the morning on a deserted road I suddenly saw an infant sitting in the center of my lane.  I locked-up the brakes (which panicked the other driver dozing in the passenger’s seat) and slid right over that child.  We jumped out of the truck and looked behind the truck to see  . . .  nothing.  In the Texas moonlight there was nothing there but my skid marks.  In my fatigue I had imagined the entire thing.  I can assure you that I was “awake” for an hour or so after that, heart thumping and hands shaking, at the motel where we stopped shortly after this episode. But the effect was short lived – – – after the slug of adrenalin had been metabolized, which caused me a little trouble going to sleep, when I did drift off, I slept for about 12 hours.

Sleep Apnea

I have been in business meetings where one person on my team heard one thing and everyone else heard something entirely different.  The odd-man-out was known to be grouchy, irritable and he was very overweight.  In retrospect, I would bet he had sleep apnea and was sleeping poorly.  I predict a time, within 5 years, when sleep apnea is seen as the productivity-robber that it is and is therefore proactively diagnosed and treated.  For instance, here in 2011 sleepy driving is seen as an annoyance to be treated with energy drinks.  (This is in spite of evidence that driving while fatigued (DWF) has been shown to impair decision making and motor skills even more than 3-4 stiff drinks!)

The root cause of most sleepy driving is sleep apnea where the throat closes and the person never enters deep sleep.  Sleep apnea sufferers typically do not know they have the disease (although their sleep partners know they snore and sometimes choke or gasp) and so they never get treated for it.  Treatments range from simple mouth appliances that hold the lower jaw forward during sleep to CPAP machines that force air into the lungs to the ultimate – – – surgery to remove/strengthen the soft palate and throat tissues so they don’t flop around in there.

The bottom line is this:  if you are not well rested at work, you cannot make optimum decisions and your bosses will begin to question your judgment.  You may also be irritable and/or short tempered and your coworkers may try to avoid you.  All this can gave a negative impact on your career.  So if you find that you MUST drink coffee throughout the morning “just to function” , or if your sleep partner says you snore or gasp or choke, or if you don’t wake up bright-eyed and ready to take on the world, you have a problem: you are either not getting enough sleep (quantity) or you are getting poor sleep (quality).  Try to get at least 7-9 hours each night for a week and if you are still tired, see a sleep clinic about a sleep study.  It requires just one night, a nurse monitors your sleep, and it can save your life because undiagnosed sleep apnea can destroy part of your heart in just a few years!  And long before that, it will have destroyed your career.

Copyright: Solid Thinking Corporation