The physiological and psychological stressors associated with sustained work, fatigue, and sleep loss affect worker performance. This review describes findings relating to sustained work stresses commonly found in our advancing technological world. Researchers report decrements in sustained performance as a function of fatigue, especially during and following one or more nights of complete sleep loss, or longer periods of reduced or fragmented sleep. Sleep loss appears to result in reduced reaction time, decreased vigilance, perceptual and cognitive distortions, and changes in affect. Sleep loss and workload interact with circadian rhythms in producing their effects. These interactions are a major source of stress in work situations requiring sustained work in continuous operations and have implications for theoretical models of sustained perceptual and cognitive functioning.
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