The Most Sleep Deprived Professions in the United States

In the 21st century, it seems that getting a good night’s sleep is a rarity rather than the norm. Much of this is to do with a person’s daily schedule, habits, and the job they need to perform on a daily basis.

It is becoming more and more clear that not all jobs are equal in this regard. Many of them are physically demanding or cause high levels of stress even outside of the work environment, making it difficult for employees to get a good night’s sleep.

Keep reading to find out more about some of the professions that cause the most sleep deprivation, and what can be done to avoid becoming sleep deprived.

Most Physically Demanding Jobs

Our team compiled data from O*Net Online Resource Center data to determine the most physically demanding jobs:








Farmworkers and Laborers, Crop, Nursery, and Greenhouse


Manufactured Building and Mobile Home Installers


Athletes and Sports Competitors


Exercise Trainers and Group Fitness Instructors


Structural Iron and Steel Workers




Reinforcing Iron and Rebar Workers


Brickmasons and Blockmasons

[Editor’s Note: The data above originates from O*Net, yet our team sorted the data through the following variables: Stamina, Performing General Physical Activities, Night Vision, Dynamic Strength, Time Spent Bending or Twisting The Body, Dynamic Flexibility, Extent Flexibility, Gross Body Coordination, Gross Body Equilibrium, Explosive Strength, Static Strength, Trunk Strength, Speed of Limb Movement, Handling / Moving Objects, Time Spent Kneeling/Crouching/Crawling, Time Spent Walking/Running, Cramped Workspaces/Awkward Positions, and Very Hot/Cold Temperatures.]

Most Mentally Demanding Jobs

Again in partnership with O*Net Online, our team also studied the most mentally exhausting jobs, based on several factors such as: time pressure, duration or work week, and consequence of error:




Nurse Anesthetists


Chefs and Head Cooks


First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives




Critical Care Nurses


Ophthalmologists, Except Pediatric


Detectives and Criminal Investigators




Chief Executives


Postmasters and Mail Superintendents

[Editor’s Note: The data above originates from O*Net, yet our team sorted the data through the following variables: Duration of Work Week, Consequence of Error, Deal with physically aggressive people, Impact of decisions, Competition, Adaptability/Flexibility, Frequency of Conflict Situations, Deal with Unpleasant/Angry People, Resolving Conflicts + Negotiating , Importance of Repeating the Same Tasks, Impact of decisions on coworkers/company results, Importance of being exact, Time Pressure, Selective Attention, and Time Sharing.]

Most Sleep Deprived Employees: 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:

  • Plant, reactor, and system operators: 49.6%
  • Supervisors of food preparation and serving workers: 48.9%
  • Supervisors of production workers: 48.9%
  • Firefighting and prevention workers: 45.8%
  • Extraction workers: 45.3%
  • Material recording, scheduling, dispatching, and distribution: 44.6%
  • Metalworkers and plastic workers: 44.0%
  • Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides: 43.3%
  • Life, physical, and social science technicians: 41.8%
  • Cooks and food preparation workers: 41.4%

While many people assume that the higher you get up the corporate ladder, the more sleep deprived you become, the opposite seems to be true. Senior executives reported better sleeping habits than those still climbing the corporate ladder.

Most Sleep Deprived Cities – – Infographic

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How Is Work Stress Affecting Sleep?

When you have a stressful work life, it often impacts the quality of your sleep, especially when you have been working until late in the evening. This can cause something called adjustment insomnia, which impacts the quality of your sleep and can cause disturbances during the night.

But you’re not doomed to a sleepless life just because your job is stressful. If you do things to unwind at the end of your workday and have fun before bedtime, you can have a restful night of sleep. Making this a daily routine can aid in the prevention of sleep deprivation, leaving you more prepared to tackle the challenges that everyday life presents you.

The Effects of Sleep Debt

Sleep deprivation is caused by sleeping less than is required for your body to operate at its optimal level. Sleep that is essentially “owed” to our bodies is called sleep debt. Living your day-to-day life with sleep debt does have its effects on the way you function and behave. These are a few of the symptoms of sleep debt that can be expected:

  • Irritability
  • Poor judgment
  • Attention deficit
  • Memory issues
  • Depression
  • Immune system dysfunction
  • Worsened vision
  • Physical stress
  • Advanced aging
  • Reduced motor dexterity
  • Weight gain/obesity

The problem is that many people assume that they can just catch up on sleep over the weekend. But sleep debt accumulates quickly and gains interest.

How to Prevent Sleep Deprivation

Once you are sleep deprived, it’s hard to sleep your way out of it. So it’s best to prevent sleep deprivation in the first place. These are a couple of ways you can prevent becoming sleep deprived.

Invest in a Comfortable Mattress and Bedding

If you want a great night’s sleep, you need to start by looking at the basics. Ensure that you have a comfortable mattress that supports your body and comfortable sheets that don’t feel abrasive against your skin.

Avoid Screens or Bright Lights Before Bed

It’s no secret that light exposure affects your sleep, especially when it happens close to your bedtime. Try to dim your lights an hour or two before your plan to go to sleep, and stay away from the TV. Instead, opt for other activities that don’t involve a screen, such as reading.

Limit Caffeine Several Hours Before Bed

Caffeine is a stimulant, which is why it helps you to get things done during the day. But caffeine and sleep are not friends. If you have caffeine too close to your bedtime, you might have a racing heartbeat, extra energy, and the urge to use the bathroom during the night.

Follow a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Sticking to the same sleep schedule every day gets your body into a routine. After a couple of days, it will start to get tired just before bedtime as it prepares for sleep. Your sleep schedule is something that can be quite challenging to standardize, but this guide will help you to fix your sleep schedule once and for all.

Create a Relaxing Routine Before Bed

The hour or two before you go to bed should be the most relaxing time of your day. In a modern world, this can be tricky with so much on your mind, which is why it takes a concerted effort to actually relax.

Everybody’s relaxation looks different, but meditation can go a long way to release the right ‘sleepy’ hormones into your body. Things like taking a bath, using aromatherapy, or applying a face mask can also help you wind down for the day and get you in the right headspace for sleep.

RELATED: What to Do If You Can’t Sleep

Sleep in a Dark, Quiet, and Cool Room

Creating the perfect sleep environment is crucial to getting a good night’s rest. There are a couple of elements that make up an ideal sleeping environment that should be given some attention.

Your room should be nice and dark with no distracting lights that may wake you during the night. If your curtains let in a lot of light, consider buying blackout curtains or wearing an eye mask while you sleep.

If you are sleeping in an environment that is often plagued with noises, try listening to white noise. This will stop you from being startled awake by anything that might go thump in the night.

You will have a much more restful sleep in a cool room than you will in a hot one, that’s why experts recommend sleeping in rooms that are between 60 and 67 degrees. It might be best to adjust your thermostat at night, or simply crack open a window to cool down the room.

Tyla Oliver

Tyla Oliver is a passionate SEO content writer. In her free time, she enjoys reading, mountain climbing and sky diving.