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Fatigue, alcohol and performance impairment


Reduced opportunity for sleep and reduced sleep quality are frequently related to accidents involving shift-workers1,2,3. Poor-quality sleep and inadequate recovery leads to increased fatigue, decreased alertness and impaired performance in a variety of cognitive psychomotor tests4. However, the risks associated with fatigue are not well quantified. Here we equate the performance impairment caused by fatigue with that due to alcohol intoxication, and show that moderate levels of fatigue produce higher levels of impairment than the proscribed level of alcohol intoxication.

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  1. Mitler, M. et al.Sleep 11, 100-109 (1988).

  2. Leger, D. Sleep 17, 84-93 (1994).

  3. Akerstedt, T., Czeisler, C., Dinges, D. F. & Horne, J. A. J. Sleep Res. 3, 195 (1994).

  4. Harrington, J. Shiftwork and Health: A Critical Review of the Literature. Report to the Medical Advisory Service, UK Health and Safety Executive ( H. M. Stationery Off., London, 1978).

  5. Knauth, P. & Rutenfranz, J. in Advances in the Biosciences Vol. 30. Night and Shiftwork. Biological and Social Aspects. (eds Reinberg, A., Vieux, N. & Andlauer, P) 161-168 (Pergamon, Oxford, 1980).

  6. Tilley, A., Wilkinson, R. & Drud, M. in Advances in the Biosciences Vol. 30. Night and Shiftwork. Biological and Social Aspects. (eds Reinberg, A., Vieux, N. & Andlauer, P.) 187-196 (Pergamon, Oxford, 1980).

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Dawson, D., Reid, K. Fatigue, alcohol and performance impairment. Nature 388, 235 (1997).

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