It is normal to feel tired or drowsy after prolonged mental or physical effort at work. Fatigue however, is more than that. It is an acute and/or ongoing state of tiredness that leads to mental or physical exhaustion and prevents people from functioning within normal boundaries.
Being awake for 17 hours impairs performance to the same level as having a 0.05 blood alcohol content. Being awake for 20 hours impairs performance to the same level as having a 0.1 blood alcohol content.
One of the key factors outside work that can result in fatigue is poor quality of sleep.
Research from the Sleep Health Foundation in 2017 (Asleep on the Job report) indicates that 40% of Australians are not getting enough sleep.
Looking at this closely, it is apparent that approximately half of this sleep disturbance is due to lifestyle issues and the other half is due to physical or mental health conditions, which includes some sleep disorders. Most sleeping problems are preventable or treatable, yet less than one-third of sufferers seek professional help.
Probably the most important tip regarding better sleep is having a healthy respect for sleep and an understanding of its importance to our health. When our sleep is disturbed by shift work, tight work deadlines, or caring for young children, we need to work hard on restoring the balance.