What Are the Impacts of Sleep Deprivation on Reaction Times?

Whether you’re operating a motor vehicle or machinery at work, delayed reaction times are dangerous. Sleep deprivation and the associated fatigue is a key factor in these kinds of dangerous reaction time delays. With on-board collision avoidance systems, operator fatigue can be quickly identified, so actions can be taken to prevent potentially deadly accidents. Here is what you need to know about the dangerous impacts of sleep deprivation on reaction times.

Defining Sleep Deprivation

One of the most challenging things about sleep deprivation is that there is not a clear definition of what it means. Lack of sleep affects people in different ways. Generally, adults need six to eight hours of sleep to perform at their peak abilities and not suffer from the effects of sleep deprivation. However, some people can function without impairment on less sleep, while others need more sleep to perform without impairment. It is more important to focus on symptoms rather than counting hours of sleep to determine if you are sleep deprived.

Sleep Deprivation and Reaction Times

Multiple studies have examined the impacts of sleep deprivation on reaction times. Each study has demonstrated that people suffering from sleep deprivation had reaction times that were as bad or worse than people who were legally intoxicated. These effects appear after a single night of insufficient sleep, and they increase quickly with multiple sleep-deprived nights. Response times are slowed by even a mild amount of sleep deprivation.

Preventing Sleep Deprivation-Related Accidents

Approximately 100,000 accidents occur every year that are caused by sleep deprivation and fatigued driving, so it’s important for people to be aware of the impacts of lack of sleep when they get behind the wheel of any kind of machinery. Fatigue monitoring systems can alert operators to slow reaction times so that they can take action before an incident occurs.


Guardvant offers innovative safety solutions for equipment operators, including robust fatigue monitoring and collision avoidance systems. Find out how we can help you build a fatigue risk management plan by calling (520) 299-1911.