Shifting Rhythms

Fatigue, Drugs and Alcohol

Did you know that even one night of sleep deprivation can impair performance as much as having a blood alcohol reading equal to .05% .[1]

In real terms, how do we address this, and what does it really mean for Australian business and industry?

The Circadian rhythms of sleep and waking are essential for ongoing health and vitality. They are also essential for ongoing productivity, profits and health and vitality of a workforce. When Circadian Rhythms are disrupted either through fatigue or drugs and alcohol, the consequences for industry can be pronounced. An adequate approach to duty and fitness will address the interaction of these issues and must view these as inextricably linked in with each other.

Figure 1.Schematic model of the three interactive factors determining shift work strain.[2]

CMM Technology understands the potential effects and cross-currenting of fatigue and drugs and alcohol, particularly in industries where shift work is a fact of life. As Baker et al state; “when fatigue and AOD link in together, health, safety and productivity are compromised and the consequences can extend beyond the immediate work place, into the community and the wider environment.”[3] CMM Technology is able to tailor consulting and testing services that approach Fitness For Work in a holistic and progressive manner that effectively reduces such risks and increases safety and overall workplace wellbeing.

Pilots, shift workers and a proportion of the transport industry have often had to contend with the issue of circadian imbalance and– fairly or unfairly – have often been associated with stimulant use. Evidence indeed points to illicit stimulant use as a disruption to the body’s natural rhythms.[4] But in addition, other licit substances such as benzodiazepines – commonly used for short term circadian re-alignment, can be disruptive. Their long term use is often associated with impairing side-effects and with a “rebound phenomenon causing the original problem to return at an even higher level and intensity.”[5] This in turn exemplifies the complex nature of addressing Fitness For Work in a manner that integrates and understands all facets impacting the working population of a given business entity or industry.

To summarise, the compounding effects of fatigue and circadian dissociation, drugs and alcohol can lead to a deterioration of the psycho-physiological health and wellbeing of a work population. Adequately address these inter-related issues and develop a tailor-made Fitness For Work approach with the help of CMM Technology’s expert consultancy and testing services.  Telephone CMM Technology on 08 9204 2500

[1] Baker, A., Ferguson, S. Dawson, D. Fitness for Duty: Fatigue, Drugs and Alcohol. Produced by the Centre for Sleep Research 2002, Australia.

[2] Monk, T.H., Folkard, S. Making Shiftwork Tolerable. Burgess science Press, 1992, U.K.

[3] Baker, A., Ferguson, S. Dawson, D. Fitness for Duty: Fatigue, Drugs and Alcohol. Produced by the Centre for Sleep Research 2002, Australia.

[4]Uz, T.; Akhisaroglu, M.; Ahmed, R.; Manev, H. (December 2003). “The pineal gland is critical for circadian Period1 expression in the striatum and for circadian cocaine sensitization in mice”. Neuropsychopharmacology 28 (12): 2117–23. doi:10.1038/sj.npp.1300254. PMID 12865893.


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