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How does lack of sleep affect job performance?

Sleep plays a huge role in the ability to perform, even when it comes to basic skills we’ve done over and over again. And thinking about our pilots’ alertness is probably not something that enters our minds as we’re boarding planes and getting organized in our seats, but the thoughts are crossing millions of grounded minds this week as more news emerges about the fate of that February ride.

The history books are loaded with similar stories: The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska, the Challenger space shuttle disaster, and the Chernobyl nuclear accident have all been attributed to human errors in which sleep-deprivation played a role.

Sorry, but sleep deprivation--regardless of your job--is not a badge of honor. Pilots aside, think of all the jobs that rely on alertness in critical, potentially life-threatening scenarios: ER doctors, surgeons, ground transportation drivers, air-traffic controllers, freight train engineers, etc. The sad part is the challenge of ensuring our pilots, drivers, controllers, and so forth are indeed fit to be at the helm.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.