The Most Sleep Deprived Professions in the United States

list of the most sleep deprived careers in America

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We calculated the top 25 professions with the highest percentage of workers receiving inadequate sleep using data from a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study on sleep duration by occupation. For this research, inadequate sleep is defined as getting fewer than 7 hours of sleep per night. Not all professions were included in the survey collection, those that were had at least 500 respondents.

Which Occupations Get The Least Sleep On Average?

Here is a list of the top 10 most sleep-deprived professions and the percentage of survey respondents who reported receiving inadequate sleep on a regular basis:

  1. Plant, reactor, and system operators: 49.6%
  2. Supervisors of food preparation and serving workers: 48.9%
  3. Supervisors of production workers: 48.9%
  4. Firefighting and prevention workers: 45.8%
  5. Extraction workers: 45.3%
  6. Material recording, scheduling, dispatching, and distribution: 44.6%
  7. Metalworkers and plastic workers: 44.0%
  8. Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides: 43.3%
  9. Life, physical, and social science technicians: 41.8%
  10. Cooks and food preparation workers: 41.4%

Nearly half of all power plant and reactor workers surveyed got inadequate sleep, making this the most sleep-deprived occupation.

49.6% of all plant, reactor, and system operators surveyed reported getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night, meaning they’re not getting the adequate sleep they need to function normally.

This is unsettling news for any occupation but power plant and reactor employees operate machinery that has the ability to injure or kill large numbers of people. Making mistakes on the job due to sleep deprivation could have hazardous consequences.

While anyone is at risk for sleep deprivation, shift workers, are especially vulnerable. We don’t know for sure that the survey respondents in this category worked in shifts but it is plausible. Shift workers work long hours at a time and then need to fit in enough sleep during whatever hours they have at home. Working the night shift means they’re awake during the day, which can make falling asleep and staying asleep even more difficult.

More firefighters get fewer hours of sleep than police officers.

According to the data, 45.8% of firefighters are not getting enough sleep compared to 39.8% of police officers. This is troubling news for many reasons as these emergency responders need to be alert and focused but also because sleep deprivation can impact a person’s mental health and his or her judgment.

A lack of sufficient sleep is linked to anxiety, depression, irritability and mood swings. It can also impair judgment, which makes things like driving while sleep-deprived even more dangerous.

CEOs are sleeping more than lower-level supervisors.

When it comes to the supervisors of both foodservice and factory workers, a staggering 48.9% reported they aren’t getting enough sleep while 36.3% of executives, operations managers, and legislators say they’re getting inadequate sleep.

Other surveys have reported similar findings, including one from global staffing firm Accountemps. They surveyed 2,800 Americans and found that 44% of respondents said they lose sleep “somewhat often” or “very often” because they are thinking about work.

According to the Accocuntemps survey, those surveyed reported losing sleep due to worrying about work and generally feeling overwhelmed by how much was on their plates, their work schedule, a business problem, issues with their co-workers, issues with their boss, and stress about losing their job.

Ways To Prevent Sleep Deprivation

Getting the recommended amount of sleep per night is crucial to being able to perform a job to the best of one’s ability. This not only affects the individual’s personal safety but in the case of many of the occupations on our list, it affects the safety of mass groups of people.

Here are a few tips to prevent sleep deprivation:

  • Creating a dark and quiet sleep environment signals to the body that it’s time to fall asleep and allow it to stay asleep by minimizing disruptions from external lights or sounds.
  • Avoid smartphones or TV screens before bed, as the blue light that emits from these devices can trick the body into thinking it should stay awake.
  • Cut out caffeine early enough in the day so it’s cleared from the body before it’s time to sleep.
  • Sleep on a comfortable and supportive mattress and pillow in order to wake up refreshed and not stiff or sore.
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Gravatar for Joe Auer

Joe Auer

Joe Auer is the editor of Mattress Clarity. He mainly focuses on mattress reviews and oversees the content across the site.

He likes things simple and take a straightforward, objective approach to his reviews. Joe has personally tested nearly 250 mattresses and always recommends people do their research before buying a new bed. He has been testing mattresses for over 5 years now, so he knows a thing or two when it comes to mattress selection. He has been cited as an authority in the industry by a number of large publications.

Joe has an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and an MBA from Columbia University.